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French press review 6 November 2018


The American midterm elections and French President Emmanuel Macron's World War I memorial marathon are today's top stories.

Should we be interested in the outcome of today's midterm polls in the United States?

According to the editorial in centrist daily Le Monde, the answer is yes, definitely!

These elections, which will put all 435 seats in the US lower house and 35 of the 100 senatorial jobs up for grabs, are, says the French newspaper, the first chance to evaluate the real meaning of the election of Donald Trump to the White House two years ago.

Either the Democrats got it terribly wrong, choosing a hopeless candidate (sorry Hillary!) and then arrogantly assuming that they'd win key states anyway, or else the vote for Trump was the expression of a deeper swing by America, away from its global obligations, towards dangerous forms of nationalism and isolationism.

Put at its most simple, today's 470 elections, along with the races for governors and state representatives which are on the same ballot papers, will give an indication of the relative strengths of Trump's fuck-you policies of closure and commercial self-interest, and a more moderate respect, shared by Democrats and many within the president's Republican political family, for America's traditional allies, trading partners and the environment.

Trump, whose name will appear on no ballot paper, has chosen to pitch these midterms as a referendum on his presidency. If the Republicans lose their majority in the lower house, the Donald will have less scope for acting like a bull in the global china shop for his remaining two years.

Europe, those who worry about global warming and the world's displaced poor will watch the outcome with more than usual interest.

Petrol and diesel punished in French budget for 2019

The French parliament has passed the budget for next year. That's bad news for motorists, especially those with diesel-engined cars, since prices at the pump will rise on 1 January next, diesel bearing the brunt of the increase. But the measures may be welcomed by those who like their breathing air without microparticles.

Angry motorists are already planning to block the nations roads, and blacken the skies with exhaust fumes, on 17 November.

The ecology ministry in one of the few to see its spending power increased next year, and more than seven billion euros have been earmarked for the development of wind farms, solar energy and bio-fuels.

Three-hundred-and-fifty million euros will be spent encouraging the French to use their bikes more.

Macron marches on

Right-wing paper Le Figaro says anger about the budget and its impact on the ordinary Frenchperson's spending power are not being allowed to overshadow President Emmanuel Macron's memorial marathon as the French leader visits some of the key sites of World War I.

Yesterday the president was in Morhange, where 40,000 French troops perished in four days of fighting in one of the opening clashes of the Great War.

Morhange has since seen its textile, coal and steel industries lose their own battles, leading to the misery of mass unemployment. But Macron was anxious to stress that the commercial war can be won on the back of successive defeats. He visited a former iron foundry, incidentally the birthplace of the girders used to build the Eiffel Tower, now producing precision equipment used in the chemical industry.

"This region," he said of the north-eastern former heartland of French heavy industry, "has always had the strength to reinvent itself, to embrace renewal, to rebound in the wake of adversity."

That, says Le Figaro, is a lesson Macron needs to remember himself, as he faces his own storms and setbacks, hoping for a brighter future.

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