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French press review 9 November 2015


Are we about to see an end to right-wing austerity policies in Portugal? Was the Egyptian Airbus crash caused by a bomb? Was that bomb planted by Islamic State? And what do those questions suggest about the current Western strategy against the fundamantalists?


The main story in Communist paper L'Humanité predicts the end of austerity in Portugal.

L'Huma says parliamentary deals in the wake of the recent Socialist victory are likely to see a broad left-wing coalition and the eviction of the conservative government of Pedro Passos Coelho.

One-fifth of Portugal's population of 10 million is officially poor, with more than 25 per cent real unemployment and the economy in complete stagnation. All this, says L'Humanité, as a direct result of the financial obligations accepted by Lisbon in 2011 in exchange for a bailout from the European three-headed monster.

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L'Humanité makes no mention of the tragic similarities between Portugal and Greece, where a left-wing coalition came to power promising an end to Brussels-imposed austerity. Only to end up on its knees, grovelling to keep the banks open. Come to think of it, what about the tragic similarity with France, where François Hollande came to power promising to put manners on the bad boys in Brussels?

Conservative paper Le Figaro looks at the Airbus crash in Egypt, saying that investigators are now 90 per cent sure the disaster was caused by an on-board bomb. That's what the Islamic State armed group have already claimed on two occasions. If it becomes clear, says Le Figaro, that the Islamic fundamentalists are capable of placing a bomb on a commercial airliner, then the Western allies will have to reconsider their already dubious strategy of long-range bombing.

Global warming is a serious business. And not just for polar bears and the odd low-lying island chain. According to the front page of this morning's Le Monde, even the French wine industry is in danger.

France produces 3,400 different wines, some of them recognised worldwide as the best you can drink. The problem is that too much heat is bad for grapes, drying them out so that the flavour and the alcohol of the eventual beverage are intensified, not always with the most palaltable results.

In the southern Aude region, for example, researchers have observed an increase of one degree in the alcohol content of local wines every 10 years for the past three decades.

According to the environmental watchdog Greenpeace, current emmissions of greenhouse gases suggest that gobal temperatures could increase by 4.0° or even 6.0° between now and the year 2100. A scenario which would force the limit for wine cultivation northwards by about 1,000 kilometres, turning Kent in England into Bordeaux, Bordeaux into Rioja and most of Spain into north Africa. The great French wines like Montrachet, Pauillac or Champagne will be replaced by English products called Frogmore, Cowbottom or Burwash. It's a worrying perspective, especially given the quality of cross-Channel beer.

Le Monde also says that, with exactly one month to go to the first round of the French regional elections, many mainstream candidates are exasperated by the ease with which the far right Front National is prospering, without really mounting a campaign.

According to Catholic daily La Croix, the far right is currently given the lead in no fewer than four of the 13 regions.

"People are angry," says one right-wing politician. "There's an air of hopelessness." And that, many fear, will lead to an unprecedented level of abstention.

The Front National has always been good at getting its people to the polling stations, so a general refusal to vote will strengthen the hand of Marine Le Pen and her fellow fundamentalists.

Many candidates says it's all the fault of we journalists, who continue to give the far right far more coverage and credibility than they have a right to. Which is probably a good cue for me to put a sock in it.

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