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French press review 13 February 2016


Right-wing critics say the newly-appointed government of cohesion has already come unstuck. French feminists are not happy with the duties attributed to Laurence Rossignol, the new minister for the family, childhood and women's rights. And The Independent newspaper in London is preparing to kill off its print edition.


Catholic La Croix assures us that "Mexico is waiting for the pope"!

Well they can stop. The Roman Catholic leader arrived yesterday, for a five-day visit to a country ravaged by drug-related violence and corruption. Sceptics say the pontif's visit may help to wake up some of the local Catholic clergy to the plight of the poor, but not even a miracle would impress Mexico's political elite.

Right-wing Le Figaro notes that it took less than 24 hours before the new cabinet, designed to be coherent and cohesive, started showing the strain.

Le Figaro says the new housing minister, Emmanuelle Cosse, has spoken out against the government line on depriving terrorists of their nationality; Jean-Michel Baylet, who is responsible for National Territory, the countryside and local groups, is an ardent enthusiast for the legalisation of cannabis, which the socialist administration is not. He also owns an impressive stable of local newspapers, which will leave him open to charges of a) favouritism, if he's too easy on the president and his government colleagues, or b) insider trading, if his journalists suddenly seem to know a bit more than they should about what's going on at cabinet meetings.

And then, say Le Figaro, there's the teeth-grinding return of Jean-Marc Ayrault, sacked as prime minister to make way for Manuel Valls, now back and looking after foreign affairs. To say nothing of financial wizzard Emmanuel Macron, who frequently gets his more left-wing colleagues' dander up.

Le Figaro quotes one un-named insider as saying, rather colourfully, "we're back in the shit, up to our eyeballs".

French feminists are not happy with the duties attributed to Laurence Rossignol, the new minister of the family, childhood and women's rights. "Hey guys," say Femen France on their Twitter account, "you forgot to mention cooking and housework!"

The president of the National Equality Council and her counterpart in the French Senate have issued a joint communiqué deploring a job description which locks women into the stereotypical role which has been theirs for centuries . . . that of wife and mother.

The association "Try feminism!" says the name of the new ministry is a "tripple back-step".

Centrist paper Le Monde says the debate about the job description is unfortunate since the real news is that women's rights now have a full ministry, not a junior Secretary of State as has been the case.

And the new minister, Laurence Rossignol, is a respected feminist with a serious, long-term reputation. She has herself attempted to calm the critics, asking women to have confidence in her to administer a job she describes as "feminist family minister".

Since the law allowing marriage for all and the law on sexual equality have already been voted, and next month's law protecting the child is already well established, if sadly trunbcated, the real danger, warns Le Monde, is that Laurence Rossignol may not have the time, or the parliamentary space, to make much difference in a crucial area.

The minister should be thankful that she avoided being responsible for "Women's Rights and Buying Power," as was the case for her predecessor Véronique Neiertz in the 1992 cabinet under Pierre Bérégovoy. And what about the Minister of Women's Rights and Daily Life created under Edith Cresson?

Worse still is to realise that there was no specific ministerial or junior ministerial post for women's affairs in the decade from 2002 to 2012, under the right-wing regimes of Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Dominique de Villepin and François Fillon.

Le Monde also notes that our collagues at The Independent newspaper, published in London for the past three decades, are getting ready to kill off the print edition. The last Independent will appear on newsstands on March 26 next. After that, the "paper" will exist only on-line, where it is read by 58 million visitors every month. That's a lot better than the print edition which struggles to sell 40,000 copies per day.

One hundred journalists will lose their jobs in the change.

Critics say the website is a poor reflection of what used to be a quality newspaper. Yesterday, for example, the web edition published a story headlined "Ten incredible stories which prove that our pets really are our best friends".

And, of course, the web version, despite its popularity, is not yet a profit-making proposition.

Le Monde wonders how long before the venerable Times is reduced to an electronic shadow of its once great self.

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