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France

French press review 17 March 2017

media

There's plenty of variety on this morning's front pages, with the rejection of the far right by Dutch voters getting a lot of analysis. Will the result affect the popularity of National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, here in France? And could the French economy be just about to turn the corner, thanks to the efforts of little-loved departing president François Hollande?

Le Monde's main story says high voter turn-out is what beat the far right in the Netherlands.

Right-wing Le Figaro warns that Africa risks becoming the new field of operations for the Islamic State terrorist organisation, now facing defeat in its self-styled middle-eastern homeland.

The front page of left-leaning Libération says that a storm of revolt is brewing among ordinary Americans against the presidency of Donald Trump. Yesterday's federal budget won't have done anything to improve the billionaire leader's popularity . . . he's cut state payments to the poor, to health care, to environmental protection. Military spending is, however, hugely increased.

Catholic La Croix also looks to the new US administration for its main story, as several committees of congress-persons attempt to investigate Russian involvement in the election battle between Trump and Hillary Clinton. The Catholic paper wonders if we'll ever learn the real truth.

Communist L'Humanité is annoyed at the fate of eight homeless Paris students who, in 2009, moved into an empty building in central Paris. The owner had them thrown out and demanded 80,000 euros in compensation. Now, nearly nine years later, the building is still empty, people are still homeless, and the owner has decided that the former squatters owe him 250,000 euros.

Business daily La Tribune wonders if out-going French president, François Hollande, won't go down in history as an economic wonder-worker!

The paper points out that the latest figures, published yesterday, paint an optimistic picture of the French economy, with key indicators like the growth rate of economic growth and gross domestic product ticking over very nicely, thank you.

The business paper remains sober, warning that these broad tendencies are just that, and will need to be confirmed over the longer term before unemployment and French public finances start moving out of the red zone.

The irony is that this timid economic resurgence seems to be the result of policies put in place by President Hollande and his socialist administration, policies describe as "honest if not glorious" by La Tribune.

A further irony is that whoever takes over as French leader will continue to bask in the positive glow of healthy statistics established by Hollande.

Speaking of possible replacements for François Hollande, who would want to be in François Fillon's shoes this morning? Or rather, his suits?

Because it turns out that the troubled conservative candidate, already under investigation on a range of criminal charges related to the employment of his wife and children as parliamentary assistants, may also have been the recipient of two nicely tailored two-pieces from Arnys, the chic Parisian tailor.

Bill for the kit? Thirteen thousand euros. Signature on the cheque? That of an influential friend of François Fillon. The former prime minister may thus find himself additionally accused of abuse of power, since, while there's nothing to stop a French politician from accepting a gift from a well-wisher, he's supposed to declare everything over a value of 150 euros, just to ensure that well-wishers don't unfairly benefit from their friendly links with the politically powerful.

Fillon meanwhile continues to present himself as the unfortunate victim of an appalling series of unjustified attacks. Yesterday he announced that all further questions about his judicial difficulties will be answered by his legal team. He wants to get on with the job of being a presidential candidate like any other.

Saying he is not easily unsettled, having learned life the hard way, Fillon has promised not to duck before the barrage of live fire coming from his adversaries. Which may be brave, but could also prove fatal. Or at least damaging to one of Arnys' nice suits.

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