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French press review 17 November 2016

Who will win next Sunday's first round right-wing primary? More crucially, who will come second? Why is everyone talking about ex-economy minister Emmanuel Macron? What do the poor need more than food or money? And what will Bob Dylan definitely not be doing on the evening of 10 December?


Le Figaro gives pride of place to tonight's final debate between the seven contenders for the mainstream-right presidential ticket. The first round of voting takes place next Sunday.

With the sort of caution which has become advisable since the shock victory of Donald Trump in the United States, Le Figaro says the outcome is very difficult to predict, mainly because it's the first time the right has run this sort of selection process and no one has any idea how many people will actually bother to go to a polling station. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the primary vote is open to all and sundry, not just conservative supporters.

The latest opinion poll doesn't offer much clarity: Alain Juppé is still likely to finish first, with 33 percent in Sunday's first round. But he's followed by former president Nicolas Sarkozy and François Fillon, both with 25 percent.

There are thus two likely second-round scenarios, Juppé against Sarkozy, or Juppé against Fillon.

In the first case Juppé would wipe the floor with the former president, winning 57 percent to Sarkozy's 43. But Juppé would lose the second round against Fillon, with 46 percent of votes to 54 percent.

All the other opinion polls stick to their guns, with Alain Juppé systematically beating Sarkozy. Analysts suggest that Fillon's surge in the ratings may have come too late. According to one pollster, if current trends continue, Fillon could win . . . in December.

Former minister Macron enters the presidential fray

Left-leaning Libération gives the front-page honours to Emmanuel Macron, the ex-minister who launched his own bid for the French presidency yesterday.

Libé says Macron's candidacy reduces the already slim chances of any of his Socialist former colleagues getting elected. And what it does to the chances of François Hollande is hard to express, given that the current president won't decide until next month if he'll have another shot at it and that his pre-Macron ratings were already deeply negative.

You can judge the gravity of the event by the virtual absence of commentary from the president's office. In the first place, François Hollande is in Marrakesh, saving the planet from Donald Trump. Then, you don't want to give even more publicity to a dude who is currently basking in the full glare of media attention. Especially when that points to one of the more embarrassing cracks in the crumbling edifice that is the French Socialist Party. And the less mud slung the better, since there's always the vague hope of a great left-wing reunification. The day after pigs sprout wings. But, as Donald Trump would be the first to point out, you can't be too careful.

What do poor people need most?

The cover story in Catholic daily La Croix asks what it is that poor people need most. The answer would seem to be so obvious as to make the question unnecessary, but no, the poor don't want food or money. They want to be listened to. Fifty-seven percent of those who ask the charity Secours Catholique for help rate the sense of welcome, being able to talk about their problems and getting friendly advice as more important than food or financial assistance.

Those who have been forced onto the margins of modern society obviously need food and money as well. But the crucial thing of which poverty has deprived them is the sense of a normal social existence.

The annual report of Secours Catholique is published today. It is called "The voices of poverty".

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

Bob Dylan won't be having dinner with the king of Sweden next month.

Le Monde reports that an unspecified prior engagement will prevent the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature from attending the awards dinner in person.

The prior engagement has nothing to do with music, since Dylan's current tour ends in Florida on 23 November. The dinner is on 10 December. He won't be the first winner not to show up on the night: Doris Lessing and Harold Pinter were both absent for health reasons; the 2004 winner Elfriede Jelinek couldn't show up because she suffers from a fear of open spaces and large gatherings.

Dylan says he's delighted to have been awarded the prize and is sorry he can't bring his guitar to the party. Which is a bit better than Jean-Paul Sartre who flatly refused the Nobel when he was nominated to receive it in 1964.

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