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French Press Review 5 January 2018

The lack of leadership on France's Left punches its way into the dailies today while Macrons popularity figures and "laws to combat fake news" continue to interest a number of papers.

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One of the most attention grabbing front pages this morning is that of Le Parisien which depicts a massive red boxing glove punching through paper under the headline La Gauche Atomisée (The left annihilated).

It looks how France's once prominent socialist party is again without a leader after Najat Vallaud Belkacem refused to apply for the top dog position. The tabloïd writes that as whole the French left has no leader nor real goal or direction. Emmanuel Macron political domination of 2017 left little to La Gauche.

Le Parisien ponders whether Jean-Luc Mélanchon's far left party "La France Insoumise", which was once a voice of opposition against Macron's rule, has now reached its glass ceiling seeing as it has failed to mobilise workers and students. "Could this still happen in the future?" It asks.

In any case Benoit Hammon, who led the socialist party through their massive failure in the French presidential electrions, and went on to create a new party "Generation-s" which relies solely on him as a "personality" is not enough says the paper .

Conservative daily Le Figaro is covering this "situation" with an article harshly entitled "The Journey of a Spoilt brat". The paper quotes an interview of the former education minister in which she says she never wanted to reduced her life to just politics and that one could be useful through other means. Unnamed socialist sources are quoted by Le Figaro as saying that she "has been quick to forget that it is the socialist party that has made her who she is" and that she is part of "that Golden Generation of who are cowardly running away."

All this is of course leaving plenty of space for centrist president Emmanuel Macron to gain popularity in the hearts of the French people. Well that's what economist newspaper Les Echos is saying with new poll figures that show the French head of state has gained two points in terms of how confident people feel about him. That's 7 more points than his predecessor Francois Hollande when he was as the same stage of his mandate. He's most popular among those who have retired , executives, middle managers and those who hold "intellectual professions". However Macron has failed to seduce workers.

Emmanuel Macron has also failed to impress left leaning Libération with the new ambitious legislation he wants to implement to tackle Fake news. Liberation refers to this as a "false route" as it interviews specialists who believe France's laws are currently sufficient when it comes to combating this form of disinformation.

After all is Fake News really such a new thing? They believe this new law, which for now is only a project will be a nightmare to figure out properly between how it will impact freedom of speech and neutrality on the web. One expert interviewed tells the paper that journalists, the media and the public need to work together to maintain greater transparency and tracability when it comes to fighting fake news.

And finally Le Monde looks at young people stemming from the banlieus or outskirts of Paris and immigrant working class backgrounds in particular are still discriminated against when it comes to finding jobs. This despite excellent qualifications and work experience.

Their unemployment rate is nearly three times higher than the national average according to a 2016 study. If they are in their 30s with more than fiver years in higher education, they are seldom offered executive positions. The paper laments this is effet de quartier (neighbourghood effect). A lot of work is still needed in France combat this social divide writes Le Monde. One expert interviewed doesn't believe the problem stems from racism but the fact that business are so used to recruiting "obvious candidates" and looking through the same networks instead of thinking outside the box.

One candidate from Bobiny just north of Paris tells the paper that the real problem is a lack of social network and that he needed to work twice as hard to meet "the right people" when he started his career in local politics. Another describes a lack of guidance from bodies such as Pôle Emploi, the French employment office.

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