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French press review 7 November 2016

As the countdown to the American presidential vote continues, a look at some of the technicalities behind the business of getting elected and the challenges facing the two candidates. Why are French women being asked to stop work this afternoon at 16.34 and seven seconds precisely?


As campaigning in the US presidential race officially ends, Le Monde's main headline poses a question: "Can Donald Trump still win?" And the simple answer is, yes, he can.

An opinion poll published by the very serious Washington Post last week gave Trump a one-point advantage over Hillary Clinton in the wake of the FBI decision to relaunch an investigation into Clinton's use of a non-secure computer server when she was secretary of state.

An election by electors, not ordinary voters

But you have to remember that American presidents are chosen by the US Electoral College, not by the citizens. Voters choose electors and those electors vote as a bloc for one candidate or the other. That explains how George W Bush was elected in the year 2000, despite having fewer citizen votes cast in his favour.

As things stand, Clinton is virtually certain to win 226 Electoral College votes, against 180 for her rival. These figures are based on the choices made by voters in recent elections. To become president, a candidate needs 270 electoral college votes.

Trump can make up the deficit, says Le Monde, but only if he wins the state of Florida with its 29 Electoral College votes and then goes on to take the states of North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona (worth 44 votes in total). He is currently leading in voting intentions in each of those last three, and is less than one point behind Clinton in Florida. So he's still very much in the race, with Florida likely to be as crucial to his hopes as it was to those of George Bush 16 years ago.

What price a dead heat?

Since there are 538 Electoral College members, there's even the possibility of a dead heat, with each candidate getting 269 votes. In that case, the outcome will be decided by Congress, the US lower house, currently dominated by Trump's Republicans.

The Federal Bureau gets off the case

Le Figaro gives pride of place to the decision by the FBI, announced yesterday, that there will in fact be no second investigation of Hillary Clinton's handling of confidential emails.

But the right-wing paper warns that we may not know the result once polling stations close tomorrow night. Three states, New York, Texas and Virginia, are on alert against terrorist attack on polling day.

This battle could go to extra time

After nearly 18 months of extremely aggressive campaigning by two a-typical candidates, says Le Figaro, there is no guarantee that the vote will pass off quietly.

There have already been several court actions to contest the validity of some of the 40 million votes cast early. A judge in the swing state of Ohio has had to warn both sides to refrain from intimidating opposition supporters near polling stations. Only one person has been arrested for fraud so far, and he was trying to vote twice . . . for Donald Trump.

The Department of Internal Security says the electronic voting machines are a difficult target for hackers since they are not linked to one another. It would require an army of computer experts working together to falsify votes.

But the federal authorities have warned about the danger of false results being posted on internet sites.

And if the official result is close, the long and bitter battle between Clinton and Trump could go to extra time. Donald Trump has already made it clear that he won't take defeat lying down.

French women called to strike in protest against pay gap

The front page of left-leaning daily Libération carries a call for a strike later today, at 16.34 and seven seconds precisely. At that moment, the nation's women are asked to down tools in protest against the fact that men and women are not paid equally for ding the same jobs. The gap is on average 15.5 percent.

According to calculations based on European Commission statistics, most women will effectively be working for nothing from about 4.30 this afternoon until the end of the year.

Rwanda embraces new technology, nearly

Libération also reports on a contradiction in Rwanda's enthusiasm for new technology.

According to the Paris paper, President Paul Kagame is convinced of the importance of investing in the infrastructiure and education necessary to help his country profit from the technological revolution. But he's not so keen on the freedom of expression which goes with free access to networks and the information they carry.

To read our coverage of this year's US presidential election click here

To look back at the 2012 US presidential election click here


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