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French press review 1 May 2014

Just Le Monde to hand this morning, as the nation's workers celebrate their international day by not working.

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The centrist daily (published yesterday, dated tomorrow) looks back to Tuesday's French parliamentary vote on the budgetary savings plan, saying Prime Minister Manuel Valls certainly won the battle but suggesting it may cost him the war.

The fact that 41 Socialist deputies refused to support the plan means that Valls has bought potential economic stability at the high price of social and political instability. Which would be bad enough if the divisive scheme was guaranteed to get the French economy out of the doldrums. That is not the case, says Le Monde, predicting three more years of tests and torments for the Hollande administration.

Torment is the key word in a harrowing report on the last moments of Clayton Locket, a convicted murderer who was executed by lethal injection in the US state of Oklahoma on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the experimental mix of drugs supposed to kill Locket didn't work and he eventually died of a heart attack following 43 minutes of "torture" according to opponents of the death penalty.

The difficulty seems to centre on the refusal by reputable chemists to provide the drugs necessary for these executions. This means that there's no guarantee of the quality of the material being injected. And in the tragic case of Clayton Locket, the injections appear to have been incorrectly administered, meaning that the lethal chemical missed his central nervous system. There is to be an official inquiry.

Le Monde predicts water wars in California, currently source of half the fruit and vegetables consumed in the United States. After three consecutive years of drought, the front lines are drawn between green activists, who dislike dams, and grey farmers, who damn the dry spell. There is so little water in the Sacramento River that salmon are having to be brought to the Pacific Ocean from their inland birthplaces, in trucks.

Who is Abdelmalek Sellal, and why should we care?

Well, Sellal is the Algerian prime minister and the man who ran the four stunningly successful presidential campaigns for Abdelaziz Bouteflika, recently reelected despite grave health problems following a stroke last year.

That health situation, says Le Monde, may allow Sellal to emerge from the shadow of the man he has supported since 1999 ... provided he can escape the veto of the army chief, Gaïd Salah, who thinks Sellal is dangerously close to the intelligence and security services.

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