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French press review 19 April 2018


The French papers are still very much inundated with articles about strikes and protests.

Unrest in French universities has been gaining momentum over the last three weeks with students and prospective students unhappy with new admission regulations which have been deemed by some a "Neo-Liberal and racist".

Many fear that by making all universities ultra-selective, social divides will further develop. Conservative Le Figaro looks at how France's prestigious Science-Po university has been occupied by balaclava clad demonstrators.

It says the take over sends strong message seeing as the elitist institution is one of the places that was attended by President Emmanuel Macron. Centrist Le Monde looks how groups of students are mobilising against the blocking of their universities saying that most of them are not visible at general assemblies but have a number of petitions online and are trying to counter the strikes through legal means.

The rail strike is still very present with Le Figaro sneering on its front page at the CGT union who is flying solo in calling for another day of strike action. The paper seems to believe the movement is running out of steam.

Over in communist L'Humanité, the tone is understandably different. It points to the success of crowd funding kitty that was put in place in support of the rail strike- some 800 000 euros have already been gathered- and features a number or articles by artists and intellectuals under the heading "The rail workers fight is also our fight".

According to Laurent Binet, rail users are also exploited. He believes Emmanuel Macron's end goal is to privatise de SNCF and to render people mere consumers. He says that trying to make money out of water, health care and transport systems makes not sense and is immoral.

Meanwhile, Le Parisien explores what could potentially change for the customers if the French rail service was open to competition. Would it be a "Big bang" as its main article ponders. It draws comparisons with the United Kingdom where taking the train is now more expensive than taking the plane but notes that Italy now has the wifi and even film theatres on board their trains.

It reminds its readers it took time to put it the infrastructure in place. The German rail model is the one the French executive is taking up as a model but the paper warns this will not guarantee ticket prices will go down.

The anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel is also making it into the French dailies with Liberation headlining "The Bitter anniversary".

In the space of 70 years, the state has seen the rise of nationalism, religious extremism all of which have contributed to fragilising the democracy. Liberation also looks at Israel's successful tech industry while Les Echos is quick to highlight the social economic disparity. The sector is something the country is proud of yet it only benefits 14% of the population. Les Echos writes that Israel's international image and political isolation has not deterred international investors.

And finally we turn to les Echos front page for our last story on how petrol giant Total is flexing its muscle in the energy sector after it purchased EDF rival Direct Energie for 2.5 billion euros. An acquisition that the paper expects will shake up the French markets. Total is hoping to gain 6 million customers on French soil come 2022 and increase its market share from 7 percent to 15 percent.

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