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French press review 28 August 2014

The French papers are still buzzing with reactions to President François Holande's new cabinet.


Libération puts the current debate over governmental economic policy into perspective. The French left is wondering whether Hollande still represents their ideas.

Libé's own editorial says: Look, anyone outside of France will have easily answered this question. Of course Hollande is still on the left. He's a social democrat, that's all. And it's obvious that between socialist revolution and socialist reform, he's chosen the latter. He is realistically trying to reconcile public interest with the world of finance. Not much of a shocker for anyone but the French.

But Prime Minister Manuel Valls's speech yesterday to the nation's largest employers' union, in which he said he loved business, does have many worried. It's clear that raising business benefits isn't what the left has traditionally been about.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Despite this new pandering to the private sector, Libé says France is still far from being run by conservatives: public spending is high and the number of state employees remains massive. Hollande introduced gay marriage as well as a tax for the ultra-rich.

Libé also interviews an analyst who thinks that the Socialist Party is currently under such strain that it's likely to split down the middle. The rift between reformist types like former president François Mitterrand and more radical Socialists has always been there - but now it's come to an unprecedented head.

You have to admit it's a little perplexing when even a conservative paper, usually withering in its criticism of the government, is now loading on praise.

Le Figaro's headline reads, "Manuel Valls lacks neither lucidity nor courage." This is its reaction to the PM's speech to employers yesterday, which led tothem giving him a standing ovation.

Finally the PM has seen the light, says the daily. Though his party members will probably lynch him for it, according to Le Figaro, France's Socialist Party is the last of its kind to think work is a form of alienation, that business revenue is in some way scandalous and that jobs are created by the public sector. The only way out for Manuel Valls is to appeal to right-wing voters, it advises.

And for once, L'Humanité agrees with Le Figaro - indeed, Manuel Valls has lost his Socialist supporters. Valls essentially said, "What is good for business is good for France" and this, according to the communist daily, means he threw out the entirety of the French socialist heritage.

Interactive map of France

Le Parisien runs with a cover of Manuel Valls shaking hands with the head of the employers' union and the headline wondering, "How long will the honeymoon last?"

Obviously the tabloid is a little sceptical of this new-found friendship.

Moving out of the political turmoil ...

L'Huma has the story of 200 striking McDonald's workers in central France. Though they negotiated benefits over the past years, a change of management within their franchise has pushed them to industrial action.

L'Huma says this reveals the dangers of the franchise system and says McDonald's France should take more responsibility to make sure all its employees are treated equally.

Le Monde writes that the French government is hesitating over whether to ban electronic cigarettes from public places, despite the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommendations, made public earlier this week. The WHO says second-hand smoke from electronic cigarettes may be bad for you and they should be banned indoors.

The device, meant to be a healthier version of a cigarette, is wildly popular here in France. For many the appeal is that it bypasses the traditional smoking ban. The government will be examining the case next month.

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