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France

French press review 11 February 2016

media DR

The Paris transport system is on the verge of collapse. Either users pay more or they will have to get used to breakdowns, delays, cancellations and overcrowding. The French parliament has voted in favour of a law which could see convicted terrorists deprived of their nationality.

Le Monde warns that the Parisian transport system is on the verge of collapse. Decades of failure to maintain the infrastructure and over-spending on the expansion of the high-speed train network are the principal culprits. People are either going to have to pay more to use the system, or accept overcrowding and an increasing number of delays and cancellations.

Communist L'Humanité looks forward to the case due to open today in a Paris court, where the online transport company UberPop will attempt to defend its right to offer services in France. The company is accused of fraudulently running a taxi service, and faces 1.5 million euros in fines. L'Humanité says UberPop is destroying jobs, pitting worker against worker, and creaming off 20 per cent of the profits. The company says they are the future. The communist daily says the courts are all that stand between us and the law of the jungle.

Right-wing Le Figaro notes that President François Hollande has cleared the first hurdle in his efforts to have the withdrawal of nationality made a penalty for those convicted of terrorist offences. But the road remains long, with divisions clear on both the left and right flanks of the National Assembly, a passage before the predominantly right-wing Senate, and then the need to obtain three-fifths of votes cast at a meeting of all elected representatives in congress. The conservative paper says the president has won a "fragile victory".

Le Figaro's editorial says the debate has been characterised by ambiguity and confusion. In three months the president has managed to divide his own camp, lose the services of his Justice Minister (that's a reference to Christiane Taubira who resigned last month following a series of disputes with the socialist hierarchy) and Hollande has also managed to sow the seeds of discord in Republicain circles.

Le Figaro thinks that the stripping of nationality is one of the few good ideas François Hollande has had since 2012.

It could all have been so simple, if the president had taken advantage of the wave of revulsion and anger which followed the November terrorist killings in Paris. But, laments Le Figaro, the loony left got a grip of the idea, made inappropriate parallels with collaborationist France under the Vichy regime, and Hollande tried to please all the left all the time. It's now all down to the Senate, where we are promised modifications of the text by the right-wing majority. Let the president not accuse the right of having sabotaged his proposals, says Le Figaro, that was done by his own majority.

Le Figaro also notes that the French financial watchdog, la Cour des Comptes has published its annual review of government spending. Things are not great. Income has been overestimated and spending hasn't. You get the picture. The guardians of financial probity warn, fairly politely, that the government's stated objective of getting the public spending deficit down to 3.3 per cent of gross national product by the end of this year is "uncertain". That's polite.

Catholic La Croix looks to the Central African Republic where the second round of the presidential election will be runoff on Sunday. The two survivors are both former prime ministers, the country is described as "relatively calm", but wide divisions remain between the Christian and Muslim communities. Says La Croix, the CAR won't emerge from its 30-month nightmare without international help.

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