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France

French press review 18 March 2017

media

A close look at the propositions being made by the various candidates in the French presidential race . . . an opinion poll suggesting that security will be a key topic in the choice made by a majority of voters . . . and the truth about seasonal fatigue, depression, and hair loss.

Le Monde uses its weekend edition to take a closer look at the political programmes of the various candidates for next month's presidential first round . . . a useful exercise in a campaign that has been dominated by scandals, divisions and fratricidal shenanigans. To the point where we know how much some candidates pay for their suits but not whether their economic policies would leave us with shirts.

Right-wing Le Figaro says security is the top priority for most French voters, and they want more stern action by the authorities. This is based on an opinion poll in which 80 percent of those questioned want to see the so-called "double punishment" re-introduced, and 63 percent have no problem with lowering the legal age of criminal responsibility to 16 years.

The "double punishment", in case you've forgotten, was introduced by Nicolas Sarkozy, undone by the Socialists, and involved the risk that a foreign national, having served a sentence for a crime committed in France could also find himself expelled from the country as soon as he emerged from prison.

Le Figaro paints a dark picture of contemporary France, cowering before the twin menaces of terrorism and ordinary violence.

Only the improvement of the employment situation and the boosting of individual spending power are more important to most voters.

François Fillon is seen as the most serious and most competent of the candidates to grapple with the law and order question.

Left-leaning Libération gives the front-page honours to far-left presidential perennial, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, with the cheeky headline, "He's marching too".

That's because the man is hoping to gather 80,000 supporters at his Paris march this afternoon, and because it enables Libé to poke fun at Emmanuel Macron's fledgling centrist organisation, called in French En Marche!

Mélenchon seems to be firmly installed in fifth place in the opinion polls, a position which he rejects. Today's Paris meeting will, he says, show his opponents and the general public what he can do.

On inside pages, Le Monde notes that it took Israel less than 48 hours to arrange for the suppression of an official UN report accusing the Jewish state of apartheid.

The report, written by two American legal specialists, based on analysing dozens of cases of discrimination against Palestinians, concluded that Israel was guilty of the crime of apartheid. The document went on to recommend a boycott of Israel by UN member states.

Neither the Israeli nor US ambassadors to the UN were pleased with the work carried out under the auspices of the UN's own Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, and called on UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to withdraw it immediately. Last night, the report had vanished from the UN website.

The head of Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia has since resigned in protest.

Libération attempts to analyse the foreign policy of Russian president Vladimir Putin, suggesting that he has shown himself capable of exercising power in a pragmatic fashion. And he has used the international stage, sometimes violently, as in Ukraine and Syria, as a means of forcing western powers to come knocking on his door, increasing the global clout wielded by the Kremlin.

And Le Figaro interviews a panel of experts to sort out the truth from the trumpetry in the stories about tiredness, depression and hair loss in the weeks separating grim winter from green spring.

There's no reason to be depressed, no additional reason, that is. We all suffer bouts of the winter blues because there's less light available, but that's as far as it goes.

Interseasonal tiredness is, however, a reality. And it is explained by the changes to the clock and subsequent alterations in our daily rhythms.

Try to go to bed at the same regular and reasonable hour, is Le Figaro's miracle cure, and eat lots of seasonal vegetables. Artichokes and asparagus are particularly recommended right now. Bon appetit!

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