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French press review 13 May 2016


France's struggling Socialists could learn something from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who's down but not out. The local left had better get used to struggle, since opposition to plans to change French labour law continues. And why do Socialist parliamentarians who refuse to support the government on economic questions remain in the ruling party?


Left-leaning Libération looks at the fate of the Brazillian President Dilma Rousseff, suggesting that her suspension is another blow to Latin American socialism.

Libé has no doubt that Rousseff has been the victim of an injustice, accused by opponents who have worse skeletons rattling in their cupboards.

In fact, says the Paris daily, the South American left has nothing to be ashamed of. Overall, socialist leaders have improved the level of public participation in politics, no longer the preserve of the military or a powerful clan. Wealth has been more evenly distributed in countries like Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Venezuela.

The problem, says the Libération editorial, is that unpopular structural changes needed to be made in all of these countries, to redress decades of mis- or no management. Dependance on raw materials needs to be replaced by a solid industrial base but that can't be achieved overnight. Left-wing supporters, says Libé, frequently vote to end injustice and expect results now. They are asking the impossible, ir declares.

There's a lesson there, according to the Paris daily, for disgruntled supporters of the French Socialist government.

Rifts and ructions

There's no shortage of those. The main stories in both right-wing Le Figaro and the Communist Party's L'Humanité look at how the struggle against proposed changes to French labour law is causing increasingly violent reaction on French streets and an ever-deepening rift in the ruling party.

The government has survived a no-confidence motion in the wake of its decision to force the unpopular legislation through parliament without a vote, something which the French consitution allows but which many French voters don't like at all.

But at what price?

Le Figaro says the final draft of the contested changes is virtually empty, a shadow of a brave plan which started life with broad cross-party support before it was amended out of existence.

Finally, all that has been achieved is an increase in the level of confidence of those who oppose this government. We face weeks of strikes in key sectors, from transport to the police, more violence on the streets, more evident disunity in Socialist ranks.

Worst of all, says the right-wing paper, this government which has shown itself incapable of governing has another year to go. Unless, of course, they had the courage to use another provision of the French constitution and resign beforehand.

L'Humanité says the struggle against the labour law changes will continue. Sounds like strikes!

Like it or leave it

Libération wonders why the dissident Socialist parliamentarians continue to remain members of a party whose key policies, on jobs and the economy, they can no longer support. The obvious answer is that they need the income. And the party needs them too, with the Socialist management trying to use the hardline left against the social-liberal faction, less vocal but politically more dangerous, according to the paper.

Breathing can kill you

If you live in a city, there's an 80 percent chance that air pollution is doing you no good at all. At least, that's how I read the main headline in Le Monde which says "Air pollution affects eight city dwellers in every 10," which may actually mean that your personal chances are even worse than you might imagine.

Air pollution killed nearly four million people in 2012, according to the World Health Organisation.

Pakistan's Peshawar is the city plagued by the cancer-producing particles in the world. And 98 percent of urban areas with more than 100,000 inhabitants in poor countries have air considered unbreathable by the global health watchdog.

In Paris, the problem is pesticides, currently more prevalent in city air than in the French countryside.

Six months after the Bataclan massacre

Six months after the most recent Paris attacks, Catholic La Croix looks at how the survivors are rebuilding their lives.

All but three of those injured on 13 November 2015 have now been released from hospital, even if several are still undergoing treatment on an occasional basis. Those interviewed by La Croix have all found ways of moving on from their meeting with mindless violence but all admit that the road is long and hard.

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