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French press review 19 September 2014

This morning’s papers all report President François Hollande’s press conference in Paris on Thursday afternoon. He faced a grilling from the press about the uncertain direction the country is taking more than two years after he was elected.


Le Monde publishes a special supplement on Hollande's stewardship.

He came to office promising to be a down-to-earth president, recalls the publication. Now, it says, his tenure is far from ordinary characterised by high taxes, zero economic growth, record high unemployment and troubling revelations about his private life in the wake of the tell-it-all book by his ex-partner, Valérie Trieweiler, in which she paints him as a power-crazed leader who despises the poor.

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The national dailies highlight what appeared to be an admission of frustration over his poor results but they underline his stubborn conviction that the French people will  harvest the fruit of their efforts by 2017. Wait until the end of my five-year term in 2017 to judge my actions  Hollande pleaded.

All Le Figaro retained from François Hollande’s exchange with the press was his confession that things are not easy. The paper draws the attention of its right-wing readers to the troubling admission of helplessness by the man leading the destiny of the nation. It scorns Hollande for promising his countrymen the moon only to turn around and say sorry he has no control over anything.

Libération praises  Hollande for at least scoring points for sincerity, clarity and frankness. But it wonders when he will speak about the sorry condition of his left-leaning majority, which is ravaged by open rebellion against his social-democratic agenda, which is a breach with the programme on which he was elected.

Libé says it understands he is determined to stay the course in his search for a compromise with the corporate sector to restart the economic machine and improve the job market. But it casts doubt on his ability to achieve the final objective of satisfying the electorate that brought him to power - the just society they yearn for. His inability to achieve those goals will leave left-wing voters baffled during the rest of his mandate,  according to the publication.

L'Humanité says the ritual, in which only a few journalists have a chance of taking the floor to ask prearranged questions, failed to convince anyone and didn’t help restore the president's image in any way. Hollande, it claims, once again confirmed the reputation that has dogged him – that of a supposed left-winger with a conservative mind.

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That can’t go down well in a country as political as France says the Communist Party daily. What is happening, it says, is tantamount to the usurpation of the sovereignty of the people and a violation of the social pact that French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was an inspiration for the French revolution, wrote about in his most important work – The Social Contract.

"Man," Rousseau wrote, "is born free, and everywhere he is in chains."

According to the French Communist party newspaper, that’s exactly where the French are right now.

Le Parisien Aujourd’hui en France opens its pages to one of France’s doctors of courage fighting the Ebola epidemic that has claimed more than 2,600 lives and infected over 5,000 people in west Africa.

This is as the French medic with the charity Doctors Without Borders flew home one of its volunteers infected by the deadly virus while working in Liberia. The medic is the first French national to contract Ebola. Le Figaro regrets the quasi-indifference of the European Union as the charity struggled singlehandedly to evacuate the sick medic from the west African country.

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