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French press review 21 March 2017

Last night's French presidential election debate dominates this morning's papers. And there's more bad news on the climate front, with an expert admitting that even the experts don't know what's likely to happen next.


There's no getting away from last night's presidential debate . . .

Le Monde says security was a key issue and that the five participants managed to be broadly polite about the judicial difficulties facing two of them.

Right-wing Le Figaro says there were some sharp exchanges. The nature of the presidential job, school reform, Islamic dress codes and honesty in political life were among the key topics.

To read our coverage of the French presidential election campaign click here

In a Le Figaro readers' poll of nearly 72,000 readers, asking the question "Which contender did you find most convincing?", conservative François Fillon comes out best with 34 percent. He's followed by centrist Emmanuel Macron on 23 percent with Marine Le Pen of the far right on 23. Hard-left contender Jean-Luc Mélenchon gets 15 percent approval from conservative readers, with the Socialist Benoît Hamon bringing up the rear on five percent.

Hamon clashes with Fillon

Left-leaning Libération has more time for Hamon, noting that he put manners on  Fillon when the former prime minister attacked Hamon's plans for a "basic income for everyone" and the 32-hour working week.

Hamon told Fillon that he was good at subtraction, not so hot at addition, "except when it comes to your own money". A reference to Fillon's plan to get rid of half a million jobs in the civil service, and the various accusations that Nicolas Sarkozy's prime minister has widely, perhaps not always legally, profited from his political career.

Communist l'Humanité welcomes the debate as at least the first sign of real political discussion in a campaign which has, so far, been dominated by scandals to the detriment of serious comparisons between the programmes offered.

For those who found last night's three hours and 24 minutes difficult to bear, there are, be warned, two further debates before the first round of voting at the end of April.

Climate records broken

And what else is happening in the world?

Nothing good, I'm afraid. Le Monde confirms that 2016 broke all the climatic records, sending planet Earth into what the specialists are calling "unknown territory".

Last year was the hottest year ever registered, meaning that the global sea level is at a record height and that the polar ice caps have never been so diminished.

So many key statitistics have gone off the dial that the head of the United Nations climate body says we are now out of our depth in terms of predicting what might happen next. Nobody really knows and nobody except US president Donald Trump expects anything good.

UK to activate Article 50

All the French dailies devote space to the decision by the British government to activate Article 50 of the European Treaty, the act which will launch divorce proceedings between Her Majesty's subjects and the rest of the European Union.

Le Figaro says there will be two years of negotiations, with the whole job done and dusted by the end of March 2019.

Europe says Britain will have to pay 60 billion euros to get out honourably. But British Prime Minister Theresa May will probably be arguing that such a figure is wildly exaggerated. She has already made it clear that she'd rather leave with no deal than with a bad one.

Internet appeal for Somalia famine

Libération looks at the remakable success of an internet campaign to help those suffering from the famine in Somalia. Three days ago a French star of the video site YouTube launched a collection asking fans of his Vines comedy films to contribute to help the hungry. To date, the apeal has netted neary two million euros.

The young star, Jérôme Jarre, plans to use the cash to charter a plane and fly food and water to the stricken country. Turkish Airlines, the only company which runs a regular service to Somalia, has already offered to provide an aircraft with a capacity of 60 tonnes.

The first million euros will be spent on food; any additional money will be used to provide water and trucks to distribute it.


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