French press review 2 April 2012
This morning's French papers are torn between momentous foreign stories and the ups and downs on the long long road to France's presidential elections. Inevitably, there are yards of coverage on that - of which more later.
The Catholic daily La Croix gives front page coverage - and an editorial - to events in Mali, the land-locked francophone state which was controlled by France from the late 19th century until it gained independence in 1960.
The paper says that the country's unity is under threat as a coalition of Tuareg rebels and Islamists conquer the north of the country and the military leaders of the coup d'etat in Bamako - in the south - submit to international pressure.
La Croix says it is Mali's most serious crisis since independence and notes that yesterday, the city of Timbuktu fell into the hands of rebel forces.
Most Malians want peaceful co-existence, the paper believes, reporting that on Saturday 25,000 people gathered in the capital in support of a peace initiative from the Islamic High Council, the Catholic Church and Protestant evangelicals. The assorted religious leaders called for dialogue and negotiations.
Of course - aside from other stumbling blocks - there's the question of convincing the northern rebels. Quite what might convince them to surrender their gains the paper does not say.
Le Figaro finds space on its front page to headline the news that the party of Burma's Nobel Peace Prize winner and national treasure - Aung San Suu Kyi - has reported her victory in a Parliamentary bye-election.
In what the paper calls "an historic victory" - after more than 15 years under house arrest - Suu Kyi has won elected office for the first time. The Parliament will still be overwhelmingly dominated by supporters of regime of military and ex-military men who have ruled Burma for half a century.
But, says Le Figaro's correspondent, Suu Kyi's campaign - and victory - have excited immense hope in the country. Can the Lady from Rangoon - the former "Public Enemy Number One" - trigger a "Burmese Spring"? That may be a Spring too far. Whether or not, says Le Figaro, she is now major political player. That much is certain.
The outcome of the forthcoming Presidential vote here in France is altogether less certain.
Le Figaro thinks the surge in support for the hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon could cause problems for the Socialist contender François Hollande.
More in hope than expectation, one imagines, the paper's front-page editorial says that with 35 days to go before the second round of voting on the 6th of May, the incumbent President - and Le Figaro favourite - Nicolas Sarkozy could still win it. Much to everyone's surprise, says Le Figaro, Sarkozy has regained control of his destiny.
The popular paper Aujoud'hui en France headlines what it call the risk of abstention by voters who distrust politics and are less than fascinated by the campaign. The candidates are worried - the paper says - beginning with the Socialist frontrunner Hollande.
Le Monde chooses a similar theme, saying political bosses are worried about the consequences of voters' "disappointment". And, that the electoral campaign is "unpredictable". I think we already knew that. It's much more fun that way, I'd say.
Left-leaning Libération leads with a curious story, reporting that the Centrist candidate François Bayrou - once considered the Third Man in the contest - has failed to attract support from the moderate left or the moderate right. Why is Libé telling us this? Was the man ever seriously in the running?
The communist daily L'Humanité celebrates what it describes as the growing credibility of its own flag bearer - the before-mentioned Mélenchon. The paper notes that 5000 supporters turned up at his rally yesterday and cites a recent opinion polling showing that 15 per cent of electors intend to vote for him. Joy of Joys for L'Humanité is that he has overtaken their bogie woman Marine Le Pen of the very right-wing National Front.
It may be that some French voters are not excited by the race for the Elysée Palace. But, no one can deny that they have the entire political spectrum to choose from: Far Left to Far Right and everything in-between.
Vote early and vote often.
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