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French press review 27 October 2014

Is the French left an endangered species? Is another financial crisis on the way? Who are the Kurds? Who’s afraid of family allowance reform? And why is David Cameron apoplectic?


Left-leaning paper Libération offers to explain that the French left is in danger of extinction.

Not to be outdone in the shock-horror headline stakes, communist L'Humanité's main story tells us that the world is facing another financial crisis and it's all the fault of the banks.

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Catholic La Croix wonders who the Kurds are, looking at the history which unites a people spread over the frontiers of four separate states, recently brought to the centre of international attention for their efforts on the frontline in the battle against the Islamic State armed group.

Conservative Le Figaro says the French administration has turned a deaf ear to warnings about next year's budget from the moneymen in Brussels.

And the weekend edition of centrist Le Monde says Friday night's decision by the French parliament to adjust family allowances to the financial circumstances of individual families, instead of the current one level of benefit for everyone, is an historic reform. By giving less to families who are judged not to need handouts, the state will save 800 million euros every year. Tthe move has met with opposition from all quarters of the political spectrum and has done nothing to improve the atmosphere within the divided ruling Socialist Party.

The entire law governing the financing of next year's social security budget will be voted by the French parliament tomorrow, at a session expected to be explosive.

Speaking of which, Libé has been looking at French socialism and seeing a family squabble of dangerous and probably irreconcilable proportions.

The family revolves around struggling President François Hollande, with Martine Aubry leading the "classic socialist" camp and Manuel Valls the “social-liberal” wing, both more-or-less faithful to the president. They can count on support from centrist Greens and the conservative left.

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That bloc is opposed by Greens of a slightly different hue and the “anti-liberals”, who have, thus far at least, simply voiced their disapproval of government policies and abstained from voting. The question remains how long the various rebel Socialists can continue to sit on their hands and whinge, simply to protect their own seats.

The Libération editorial reminds readers that there never was a golden age of unity in French socialism. They've always been biting the arses off one another. The problem this time is that the divisions are so deep that it's hard to see the various factions managing even a cosmetic reunion before the next big electoral challenge, in 2017.

Grassroots socialist support remains strong, according to Libé. Given the seriousness of the current social crisis, says the left-wing paper, it is up to the various clan leaders to work to find common ground, not look for further divisions.

Catholic La Croix's article on the Kurds is headlined "A great nation without a state".

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Kurds currently live in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey and are obviously hoping that the unrest in Syria and Iraq will finally see practical moves towards the establishment of a Kurdistan, promised by several international conferences since the end of World War I. Of course, the Kurds know they'll have to make the moves, and civil war and Islamic insurgency are good distractions. Turkey, which is home to 15 million Kurds, is not allowing itself to be distracted. Caught between repressive regimes and dangerous fanatics, the plight of the Kurdish nation is anything but sure.

The front page of Le Monde has a picture of an apoplectic British Prime Minister David Cameron, telling Europe to sod off with its demand for an additional two billion euros. Basically, Europe thinks Britain has done very well recently and should thus throw a few extra bob into the common kitty. Given that Germany and France will be getting handouts from the same kitty,and that popular dislike of Europe in Great Britain is close to epidemic proportions, there's not much hope of squeezing any money out of a prime minister who faces an electoral challenge next May.

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