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France

French press review 25 January 2016

media DR

Saudi politics continue to occupy French media attention, with a striking young prince on the front cover of Le Monde. Libération's less exotic headline openly lambasts France's decision to extend the state of emergency. Le Figaro takes a dig at President François Hollande and explains why the president might throw in the towel ahead of next year's elections.

Prince Mohammed Bin Salman made the front page of Le Monde’s weekend edition.

The 30-year-old defence minister and son of the Saudi king is only second in line to the throne, after his cousin Mohammed Bin Nayef.

Click here to read more articles

But Le Monde portrays him as an ambitious heir, keen to make his mark and supported both by the media since the country's military intervention in Yemen and by the king himself.

In the picture on Le Monde’s front cover Ben Salman certainly doesn't lack confidence.

The newspaper anticipates a bitter rivalry with his cousin Mohammed Bin Nayef, the current minister of interior, and expects the drama of the two Mohammeds to play out over the next few years.

Right-wing Le Figaro begins the week with a question which a growing amount of French people might already be asking: what if President François Hollande doesn’t run for a second term in 2017?

Le Figaro is polite enough to add that the chances are slim but the conservative paper goes to great lengths to show that the Socialist president's lack of popularity within his party could cause him to step down.

Click here to read more articles on Paris attacks

So is this just Le Figaro daydreaming about Hollande's downfall or is there something to it?

The paper underlines the president's struggle to convince with his plan for a constitutional reform, as well as his economic policy which many Socialists consider to be far too right-wing.

Some government sources quoted in the article add that the prospects of a first-round defeat, in the face of the far-right Front National's progress, could be enough for Hollande to throw in the towel.

To make matters worse for the president, Le Figaro underlines the growing demand within the Socialist Party for a primary election.

And finally Libération's front page speaks volumes of a growing concern about the country's prolonged state of emergency.

The temporary measure was put in place in the aftermath of November's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

But the government is set to extend it until May.

The paper points out some abuses of the measure, which grants both police forces and secret services extraordinary leeway.

In the build-up to the Cop21 climate conference in Paris, authorities used the state of emergency to put some environmentalist activists under house arrest.

So the article puts forward a slippery-slope argument but Libération also questions the measure's efficiency, quoting both security experts and actual figures to show it mainly helps authorities arrest common criminals rather than potential terrorists.

On Friday Prime Minister Manual Valls told the BBC that the state of emergency will continue to be used until the Islamic State armed group is defeated, which didn't go down well with Libération.

The paper says the government is playing into the hand of the conservative opposition, so they will continue to support Hollande's plans for a constitutional reform.

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