by Binoy Kampmark in Melbourne, Australia
The establishment got another burning in the French elections on Sunday, revealing again that there is no level of voter disgust that will not find some voice in the current range of elections. The terror for pollsters and the establishment now is whether Marine Le Pen will realize her anti-Euro project and drag the French nation kicking and moaning into a new, even more fractious order. In her way will be the pro-European Union figure of Emmanuel Macron.
The French example is similar to others of recent times: parties with presumed tenure were confined to a punitive dustbin, rubbished for stale, estranged obsolescence. The Gaullists got what was a fair drubbing – 19.9 percent for François Fillon of the Republicans, a figure crusted and potted with corruption.
It did not, however, mean that both candidates in the first and second positions were political virgins. In that sense, the U.S. election remains an exemplar, a true shock. France retains a traditional appearance to it, albeit a violently ruffled one.
Macron, with his 23.9 percent, supposedly deemed outside the establishment, still held office as minister for economy, finance and industry but flew the Socialist coop in opportunistic fancy. Blooded in traditional harness, he has managed to give the impression that he has shed enough of the old for the new, notably with his movement En Marche. He is blowing hard from what commentators have termed a “centrist” position. (To be at the centre is to be in the middle, which is not necessarily a good thing in current times.)
Just to weaken the sense of Macron as outsider, both establishment parties – the Socialist, led by Benoît Hamon, and the Republican – urged voters to go for the centrist option. This all had the appearance of a gentleman’s seedy agreement, plotted in a traditional smoking room to undermine an unlikable contender. The losers wanted to be vicarious winners. The tarnished Fillon urged voters to “reflect on your conscience.” In effect, Macron as a quantity is being sanitised for stability, the firebreak against the Le Pen revolution.
Le Pen herself speaks to a particular French and nationalist sensibility, tutored to a large extent by her father, who also ran in the 2002 Presidential elections and lost to Jacques Chirac. She is hardly one to be unfamiliar with the political argot, which has retained a reactionary punch in more measured guise.
Le Pen kept her approach punchily traditional, milking the killing last Thursday of a policeman on the Champs-Elysees with old apple and oranges comparisons on security and immigration. Having her in the Presidential office would see the stop of “mass immigration and the free movement of terrorists.”
For Le Pen, the May 7 runoff election would enable a choice to be made between “savage globalisation that threatens our civilisation” and “borders that protect our jobs, our security and our national identity.”
Macron provides an attractive target for the Front National: having worked for Rothschild, he supplies the front for corporate interests, and is “Hollande’s baby” uninterested in French patriotism. He certainly promises to be friendlier to companies in France, with a policy envisaging a cut of the corporate tax rate from 33 percent to 25 percent, while also permitting them to re-negotiate the sacred 35-hour week. His vision of the European Union, in short, is business as usual.
Under Le Pen’s particular tent lie appeals to critics of globalisation, a force that has rented and sunk various industries while also seeking to reform the French labour market. But this nostalgic throw back entails barriers and bridges, building fortifications, holding firm and wishing for the best.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon proved to be another dark horse, the spicy left-wing option to Le Pen, and a candidate who experienced a surge of popularity prior to the poll. His result is a story that has invigorated the left while gutting the socialists, providing us a reminder of the time of a greater radicalism.
“Len Pen,” claims Roger Martelli, “was counting on turning this election into a fight with the Socialist party government, but she had to compete with a radicalized right-wing opposition and socialist opponents who had moved more sharply to the left than she had expected.”
Nor were things pretty for Hamon, with a devastating result to compare to Gaston Defferre’s 5 per cent showing in 1969. The socialists reformed by the 1971 Épinay Congress in the wake of that electoral catastrophe, have been well and truly buried.
What Mélenchon’s popularity suggests is that the European system, at least the model as it stands, needs reform and a degree of disentangling vis-à-vis the state. Nor has he told his supporters to vote for Macron, a paternalistic ploy that can irritate voters.
“None of us will vote for the far-right,” went the consultation to 450,000 registered supporters of the France Untamed movement. “But does it mean we need to give voting advice?” As Der Spiegel opined with characteristic gloominess, “The presidential election in France is becoming yet another end game over Europe’s political future.”
Much will depend on voter turnout come May, and the seasoned opportunism of Le Pen. Her latest play is to place herself above partisan considerations by stepping down from the leadership of the National Front. “So, this evening, I am no longer the president of the National Front. I am the candidate for the French presidency.”
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Amanda Connolly in Ottawa
Two French counter-terrorism judges have issued, for the sixth time, a release order in the case of extradited Canadian Hassan Diab, being held in France in connection with a deadly bomb attack in Paris. And once again, his supporters in Canada are calling on the Liberal government to demand his return.
Diab, a former University of Ottawa sociology professor, was extradited to France in 2014 on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and destruction of property with an explosive or incendiary substance in connection with a 1980 synagogue bombing in Paris that killed four people.
Initially arrested in 2008, Diab has consistently maintained his innocence and has argued that he was in Lebanon at the time of the attack. French prosecutors say he built and placed the bomb used in the attack.
French judges have six times ordered Diab released on pre-trial bail since May 2016. The two who issued the release order on Monday agreed with Diab’s defence team that there is “consistent evidence” he was not in France at the time of the bombing.
Each time, the French Court of Appeal has overturned the release orders. The latest order is being appealed by the prosecutor on the case.
“Dr. Diab’s continued incarceration is wholly and manifestly unjust,” said Don Bayne, who represents Diab’s case in Canada, in a media release Tuesday. “It is past time for this government to come to the aid of a Canadian citizen, to end this travesty of justice, to bring him home. Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Freeland, where are you when an innocent Canadian needs you?”
The case has raised questions over the years because French police have relied on secret information, as well as handwriting analysis that experts have repeatedly suggested is not reliable.
Even before Diab was extradited, the Ontario Superior Court judge who heard his challenge said that the evidence presented by French police was “illogical,” “very problematic” and “convoluted,” but that — based on the Canadian threshold for extradition — there was no option but to hand Diab over.
The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear his appeal shortly before Diab was extradited.
Supporters of Diab last month launched a petition asking the government to “work towards the immediate granting of bail to [Diab] and securing his urgent return to his family and home in Canada.”
So far, 1,333 Canadians have signed the petition, which meets the threshold to force the government to issue an official response.
However, Canada does not use the U.K. model, which forces a parliamentary debate if an e-petition gathers more than 100,000 signatures.
By arrangement with iPolitics.ca
by Our National Correspondent in Ottawa
Lucile Davier, currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa, has spent many years looking at journalism that relies on translating from a foreign language. In a sense, her work examines the implications of reporters and editors working in multilingual settings. She has authored two studies, both of which looked at journalism in Switzerland, including stories leading up to the 2009 minaret ban in the central European nation.
New Canadian Media interviewed Davier by e-mail to better understand her findings and any lessons Canada can learn given its own multilingual-multicultural context.
Questions relating to The paradoxical invisibility of translation in the highly multilingual context of news agencies (2014)
1. Your study focused on two news agencies Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Agence télégraphique suisse (ATS) in Switzerland. Why did you choose these two news agencies?
I wanted to investigate multilingual news agencies based in Switzerland and their coverage of a Swiss political event. The Swiss bureaus of Associated Press (since 2009) and Reuters only produce news in English. This leaves us with two multilingual players: the global Agence France-Presse (AFP), which has a regional bureau in Geneva and produces information in French and English, and the national Agence télégraphique suisse (ats), which covers Switzerland in German, French and Italian, the three official languages of the country.
2. What would you say were your three main findings from this study?
To start with, I think it is important to clarify that these wire agencies are B2B services: they sell their stories to other media outlets, large companies and governmental offices. In other words, their stories are circulated very widely in the media.
First, I confirmed that translation is everywhere in news agencies: editorial meetings are multilingual, reporters deal with sources in a second language every day, most quotations are translated, etc.
Second, I showed that translation is hidden: it is never mentioned as such neither in the stories nor in the newsroom, and it is considered by the staff as simple and straightforward.
This combination of high multilingualism and invisibility of translation may distort the information. When they are not sure they have understood a source correctly, journalists (especially young ones) are afraid of asking colleagues because translation is supposed to be so easy. Moreover, their stories are not subjected to bilingual revision, so inaccurate translations can go past unnoticed. Eventually, journalists avoid sources in a second language as much as possible in order not to have to deal with translation.
3. What do you think are the implications from your findings? What do journalists who work in multilingual contexts need to know about translations in their reporting/editing? Is there something like "lost[to readers] in translation"?
There are important implications for the training of journalists in Switzerland, and possibly in other multilingual countries (I am currently conducting a similar study in Canada). I believe that the language proficiency of journalists should be enhanced during their education. Their translation skills should be developed as well: I am a translator myself, so I can tell that mastering a second language is not a sufficient condition to be able to translate.
I would like to help audiences read news from multilingual media or in a multilingual country with a critical eye. There is a loss in every translation, even good translations, because information gets lost, added and changed when it crosses linguistic and cultural barriers. If you read online news, try to be critical: for example, did the President of China speak in English? Or was his speech translated? By whom? By the Chinese government? By a news agency?
Questions relating to 'Cultural translation’ in news agencies? A plea to broaden the definition of translation (2015)
1. This study examined the role of culture in news translation, in the specific context of a debate in Switzerland (2007-10) over banning the building of Islamic minarets. What do you think were the 3 main findings?
Reporting about a foreign event for a local audience means crossing two borders: a language border and a cultural border. This study specifically looked at cultural borders. Given the time and space constraints newswire reporters face, these changes can be spotted in three textual phenomena.
The most common place for cultural information is background paragraphs. Background paragraphs are mostly situated at the end of a story and give general information about a region or a happening. My study showed that these paragraphs influence the way the readers understand the story. For instance, a paragraph saying that Muslims in Switzerland are “mainly from the Balkans and Turkey” may convey the idea for the readers that Muslims are foreigners.
Journalists also need to categorize sources for readers who are not familiar with them, for example to explain if a political party is left-wing or right-wing. In the case of foreign news in particular, these categorizations cannot include very detailed information and guide the reader towards a biased interpretation.
While reporting about a foreign event, journalists come to grips with culture-specific terms. They can either borrow a foreign reality and explain it (e.g., “the Federal Council – or Swiss government”), or substitute it with a word referring to a known reality (e.g., “the Cabinet”). Replacing a foreign notion altogether with a familiar concept may be easier to understand for the readers, but it also unfairly makes them believe that the notion is similar to what they know. For instance, using the word “referendum” in French refers to a rare political event in Canada and France. In Switzerland, however, a “votation” is a form of referendum but is organized at least four times a year, which is typical of a semi-direct democracy.
2. Do you think the debate over the minarets would have been different had reporters accounted for cultural factors in their reporting/translation of interviews?
This was not covered in the article under discussion, but is the subject of a broader research which will be reported in a book coming out this April. It will discuss how the representations journalists have of translation influence the choice of their sources. To cut a long story short, journalists have negative conceptions of translation: they find it dull and tedious, so they try to avoid it whenever they can. As a result, they unconsciously favour sources able to speak their native language. For instance, French-speaking reporters quoted a disproportionate number of French-speaking Muslim representatives, who traditionally hold more radical views of Islam than their German-speaking counterparts. Had they translated more, they would have given a voice to more moderate visions of Islam in the country. Who knows, it may have made Swiss voters more empathetic towards the Muslim population.
3. What do you think are the implications of this study for journalists working in multicultural contexts like Canada?
Cultural explanations may look more important than “linguistic” translation, but I believe both phenomena are just two sides of the same medal. My study showed that news agency journalists tend to copy and paste the same explanations about an event from one news item to the next one, which can reinforce cultural prejudices. However, if reporters integrate new background information from time to time (let’s be realistic…) by translating it from other stories (from other language communities or regions), they may introduce new points of view and widen the mindsets of their audiences.
Readers could also learn to be more critical about the concise background information they are given in a news report. When you come across cultural explanations, you can try to figure out what information was included or left out given the time and space limitations the journalists need to work with. Could this explanation be a caricature of a more complex reality? Where could you find more detailed background information?
Lucile Davier is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa and a lecturer at the University of Geneva (Switzerland). In 2013, she earned a joint doctoral degree in translation studies and communication studies from the University of Geneva and the University Sorbonne Nouvelle (France). During the academic year 2012-2013, she was a visiting scholar at the University of Leuven (Belgium). Her research interests include news translation, convergent journalism and ethnography of translation/journalism. She has also freelanced as a professional translator (language combination: FR-DE-EN-ES) since 2006. Davier can be reached at LDavier@uottawa.ca
PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday issued the following statement after learning of a number of terrorist attacks in Paris, France, as well as the taking of hostages: “I am shocked and saddened that so many people have been killed and injured today in a number of terrorist attacks in Paris, France, and that many […]
-- Delivered by Feed43 service
A French Olympic swimming champion has caused fury among the sport’s authorities after claiming that his colleagues on the national side regularly take cocaine. Amaury Leveaux, who won gold in the 100m relay at the 2012 London Olympics, makes his allegation in an autobiography published on Wednesday. Entitled Sex, Drugs and Swimming, it purports to […]
The Weekly Voice
Paris (IANS): Prime Minister Narendra Modi kept up his hectic schedule on day two of his France tour, visiting the Airbus facility in Toulouse and also paying homage to the thousands of Indian soldiers killed during WWI at the Neuve Chapelle memorial. A day after Modi held talks with French President Francois Hollande and both […]
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on Thursday on a three-nation tour of France, Germany and Canada that will focus on boosting trade and economic ties, including in defence and railways, keeping in mind the government’s Make in India initiative. The prime minister, who will arrive late on Thursday in Paris, earlier said that […]
The Weekly Voice
New Delhi (IANS): Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on Thursday on a three-nation tour of France, Germany and Canada that will focus on boosting trade and economic ties, including in defence and railways, keeping in mind the government’s Make in India initiative. The prime minister, who will arrive late on Thursday in Paris, earlier said that […]
-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit