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French press review 25 October 2011

Do the expriences of Algeria and Gaza have lessons for Tunisia? Or is today's Turkey more relevant? Is there too much clutter in your working life? Should we all be meditating in the workplace?


Communist L'Humanité congratulates the electorate of newly free Tunisia, for the massive turnout in Sunday's first election since the forced departure of president Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali. That's good news for democrarcy. But there is a problem. It looks as if the Islamic Ennahdha party is going to get between 30 and 40 per cent of the vote and thus become the leading political force in the new Tunisia.

Dossier: Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution

That, of course, recalls the situation in Algeria 20 years ago. Then elections were abrubtly cancelled when it became clear that Islamic political figures would dominate a popularly elected government. That refusal of the democratic process lead to a decade of carnage.

There are also parallels with the more recent Hamas victory in Gaza, which has not helped the cause of Middle Eastern peace.

And, of course, there are the wider implications, with strong Islamic currents driving the political futures of both Libya and Egypt.

For most Tunisians, at least, the future seems bright, with a general belief that religious moderates will lead the country towards a Turkish-style Muslim democracy. And, with three decades of Ben Ali dictatorship behind them, not much could be worse.

The new government will have its work cut out: official figures show 30 per cent of young Tunisians are currently unemployed.

On its inside pages, Le Monde takes a look at the modern workplace and finds that most of us suffer under a system which makes concentration virtually impossible.

The problem is both physical and virtual . . . physical, because we're now crammed into one-third of the space we occupied just a decade ago. The average worker now has seven square metres of vital space but is likely to be lost in an open-plan arrangement which means colleagues can stick their heads over the barrier for a chat.

On the virtual front, things are really hairy, with the phone and the internet pouring an endless stream of distraction across the average desk, leaving practically no time for real work. Some employees process as many as 100 emails per working day, and spend at least two hours dealing with them.

Then there's Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and all the rest of the web-born clutter. According to the experts, it takes 64 seconds to reestablish concentration on your real work, after you've finished replying to an email. Some workers think that rapidity in answering professional messages on the internet is a sign of efficiency. In fact, it's proof that they're wasting time. Seventy per cent of French managers say they have more information than they can cope with.

And the solution to all this? Well, try 10 minutes of deep breathing and meditation, focusing on yourself, refusing all external stimulation.

But it might be a good idea to make sure the boss doesn't catch you, eyes closed, deep in thought.

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