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French press review 24 January 2017

There's a lot more soul-searching this morning as the French left prepares for next Sunday's second and decisive round in the presidential primary. Is French socialism on its last legs and do those legs belong to Manuel Valls or Benoît Hamon? If that doesn't make you die laughing, how about the accidental firing of a Trident nuclear missile at the United States by a Royal Navy submarine? And you thought Trump was dangerous?


Le Monde continues to rake over the embers of the weekend left-wing primary, suggesting, like just about everybody else, that the emergence of Benoît Hamon and Manuel Valls as the second-round contestants is bad news for the French Socialist Party.

Hamon, you'll remember, is the man who left the government in protest at François Hollande's insistence that austerity was the only way forward. He now goes head-to-head against the prime minister who administered the medicine prescribed by Brussels. They represent two opposed visions of social responsibility.

The centrist paper says Hamon's strong showing last Sunday further diminishes the left's already microscopic chances of winning the next presidential election. The only positive point is that voters continue to show up for these primary selection procedures, indicating that there's still a real interest in politics and individual choice, at least for some.

Selfishness and self-interest undermine French socialism

One analyst interviewed by Le Monde says the Socialists have dug their own grave, with interminable internal squabbles motivated by self-interest and selfishness. They need to find a new philosophy, adapted to the realities of the 21st century. And they need to find a leader with a new vision, a new story to tell. That vision will have to take in not just the French republic but also Europe and the world.

All of which may be asking a bit much.

Another specialist says we're not witnessing the birthpangs of a new left but the death throes of an old one. And this collapse is taking place against a background of a general atmosphere of distrust of all things political.

Le Monde does remind readers that the last time the French left went belly-up, in 1969 with the collapse of the th Socialist Party's predecessor, the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO), it took barely two years to forge a new consensus. So the glass is at least half full.

Macron rubs his hands at the left disintegrates

Right-wing Le Figaro is having a field day. Their main story says the left-wing primary is now going to become a knife-fight, a public stand-off between the representatives of two irreconcilable points of view. And nothing less than the survival of French socialism as a political force is at stake. Perhaps that glass is really half empty?

Le Figaro also notes that these squabbles involving his former government colleagues are great news for independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, who will hope to collect a lot of votes from Valls supporters if, as now seems mathematically likely, Manuel gets the boot next Sunday.

Left-wing paper says Hamon will win, probably

Left-leaning Libération is in no doubt about who will win. They give the front page to Benoît Hamon with the headline "It all adds up, nearly". The recent fates of Hillary Clinton, Alain Juppé and those who wanted Britain to stay in Europe might suggest that caution remains the best option. We'll find out next Sunday.

Royal Navy fires nuclear missile at Florida. Ooops!

And, just to cheer you up after all that, news that Theresa May may (is there an echo in here?) pose a greater danger to world peace than Donald Trump.

Le Monde reacts to a Sunday Times story claiming that a Trident nuclear missile fired from a submarine in the Atlantic last June and supposed to land harmlessly in the ocean behaved as if it had been aimed at the United States.

It had to be destroyed in mid-air to prevent it from landing in Florida.

Defence Minister Michael Fallon yesterday described the test as "a success" that proved the "efficiency of the United Kingdom's nuclear defence capacity".

Prime Minister May says she was not aware that the Royal Navy had been firing nuclear-capable weapons at America.

Trident missiles cost 20 million euros each.

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