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French press review 10 March 2017

Benoît Hamon is the French presidential contender getting the front-page treatment this morning . . . his adjustments to several controversial proposals show that he knows what has to be done. With just six weeks to go to the first round, the crucial question is whether he'll have enough time.

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There are 45 days to go to voting in the first round of the French presidential election.

Benoît Hamon, the socialist contender who has complained that this campaign has been so engulfed in scandals that there's no room for serious political debate, got his chance last night on national television.

Le Monde says he used the occasion to back-pedal on his key, and controversial, proposal for a universal basic income for everyone between the ages of 18 and 25.

Instead of free money for all, there will now be a salary boost for the least-well-paid, ensuring that every worker gets at least 1.9 times the basic minimum wage.

And those in the 18 to 25 age group are not forgotten, they just won't get free money if they already have jobs which are paying them 1.9 times the basic minimum. For example, said Hamon, a student working one day each week could expect to get a boost of about 500 euros per month from the state.

Benoît Hamon had harsh words for his former government colleague, now opponent, Emmanuel Macron, the man who yesterday overtook far right contender Marine Le Pen to lead the opinion polls on first-round voting intentions.

Hamon says Macron is pushing many centrist voters towards the extreme right, and that the implementation of his policies would make France ungovernable, since Macron will not have the parliamentary support essential to a successful president.

Hamon given ten days to save his campaign

The same Benoît Hamon is on the front page of left-leaning Libération where he is given ten days to shake himself out of fourth place . . . behind Macron, Le Pen and François Fillon . . . in the opinion polls. That's the time left before his campaign-topping meeting here in Paris. If that flops, Hamon can throw his hat at his chances of being the next French president.

The challenge facing the socialist contender is at once simple and demanding, says Libé: Hamon has got to convince those members of his own political family, tempted by the centrism of Emmanuel Macron, to return to the socialist fold. Given that he himself contributed not a little to the disintegration of French socialism, resigning from the governing majority and leading a rebel group against austerity and employment law reform, he'll have his work cut out for him.

Libé says his adjustments to key policies on revenue, the national debt and France's position in Europe show that he knows what needs to be done. The crucial question is whether he'll have the time to convince a sufficient number of people that he can actually do it.

Europe and the global climate facing severe difficulties

Right-wing daily Le Figaro gives the front-page honours to a Europe incapable of getting over the shock of Brexit, the decision by British voters to abandon the European Union.

And, as if all that wasn't bad enough, there's grim news for the planet with a report in Le Monde on yesterday's statement by the head of the American Environmental Agency, Scott Pruitt, that carbon dioxide emissions are not making a crucial contribution to global warming. Ignoring a mountain of respectable and otherwise unquestioned scientific evidence, Pruitt says the overall human impact on global climate change remains to be established, and he criticises the Cop 21 declaration signed here in Paris two years ago as a bad deal. His boss, Donald Trump, made disengaging the United States from its Paris engagements one of his campaign promises.

A separate report in Le Monde announces the discovery of oil reserves estimated at 1.2 billion barrels in northern Alaska, the biggest oil find on American soil for the past three decades.

Scott Pruitt, a big supporter of the fossil fuels lobby, is probably delighted. Expect a tweet from Donald Trump any minute now!

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