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France

French press review 10 August 2018

media

Argentine women in tears as Senate rejects legalising abortion in the Pope's homeland. And a resignation epidemic hits France as cash-strapped and overburdened mayors step down in droves.

Thursday’s vote against legalizing abortion in Argentina, the homeland of Pope Francis, draws a flurry of reactions in today’s papers.

Several commentators analyse the implications of the nay vote by the upper House, which came after a marathon session. Anti-abortion activists and pro-choice campaigners had camped outside congress all through the night.

Le Parisien reports that 38 senators voted against the "hot-button" bill approved by the legislature's lower house in June, while only 31 supported it. The verdict was reportedly greeted by fireworks and shouts of joy from opponents of the bill, and clashes between women’s rights advocates groups gathered outside the building and riot police.

Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace says despite the painful vote and the tears of bitterness shed by Argentine women, there are defeats that carry the promise of victory in the near future.

According to the newspaper, the question which had been a taboo in the bastion of Catholicism is now on the table, despite the pressure piled on the lawmakers by the church and evangelical movements backing the Vatican II Council's branding of abortion is an abomination.

For La République des Pyrénées, by refusing to hear pro-choice women’s cry of desperation, Argentina's senate in effect voted for illegal abortions. It holds that their vote is likely to force women to go underground if they want to do away with unwanted pregnancies.

The paper reports that abortions claim an average of 100 lives every year, with more than 500,000 women said to have interrupted unwanted pregnancies during the same period.

Libération states that at this moment, when the world celebrates the birth of the first test tube baby, it is shocking to see how scientific progress is being pulled down by cultural and religious beliefs.

Local politics

Several publications deplore the miserable lives of French mayors, traumatised by growing insecurity and depleted budgets after President Emmanuel Macron's decision to scrap the local residence tax, which constituted 34 percent of their resources.

Républicain Lorrain says the government's decision to end state-subsidised contracts, which enabled struggling towns and municipalities to stay afloat, is the straw that broke the camel's back.

According to the newspaper, many small town mayors suffering from “compassion fatigue syndrome”, depression and a feeling of impotence are resigning in droves -- 500 of them over the last four years alone.

The figures puts the rate of resignations up by 55 percent since 2014. The Lorrain newspaper regrets that Macron's government has proven unable to stop the hemorrhage, accusing his administration of arbitrating on sensitive budget issues concerning the countryside with a technocratic mindset.

Le Figaro claims that the mandates of mayors in France has always been more or less a religious vocation attached to the post lasting no more than the night of electoral victory.

Gone are the days when mayors enjoyed their work, recalls Le Figaro. What they have now, it says, are trays of problems waiting on their tables – including galloping insecurity, strict norms governing their work and immigration.

According to the conservative publication, mayors often find their job disappointing and exhausting -- running around day and night, working with limited budgets and even being expected to act as a social welfare assistant at times. In short, a far cry from the perception of the prestigious job for which he or she was elected.

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