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French press review 20 January 2018

Presidents dominate this morning's front pages. There's the French leader Emmanuel Macron, calmly shouldering the burden of European leadership. And the one-year-old Donald Trump, barging his way across the world and domestic stage in a farce at which no one is laughing.


Le Monde gives the top of the front page to President Emmanuel Macron who has, according to the centrist daily, taken the leadership of Europe on his own shoulders.

Macron has had a busy week, meeting British boss Theresa May on Thursday, welcoming Germany's Angela Merkel to Paris yesterday. May has seen her European credibility go down the tubes with Brexit, Merkel is struggling to form a government.

Those facts, says Le Monde, leave Macron alone at the controls of the European project.

And he has his work cut out for him: an effort has to be made to get the European partner economies marching to roughly the same drum, otherwise the single currency will be in trouble; there's the problem of the "detatched workers", cheap labour imported from eastern EU member countries; not to mention defence, taxation and migration.

Macron has become the new strong man of Europe by default, says Le Monde. The mantle suits him well, he who placed Europe at the heart of his presidential campaign, who marched into history on the night of his election to the strains of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the official European anthem. But, warns the centrist daily, he'll need solid allies to support him on the most divisive issues and his capacity to convince France's European partners remains to be tested. Especially in a European Union increasingly divided between east and west.

The first year of the Trump presidency

Le Figaro also has a president on its front page, Donald Trump, who has served one year in office.

In 12 stormy months at the helm, says the right-wing daily, the US leader has profoundly changed government, the economy, the environment, diplomacy and justice.

Le Figaro's editorial is headlined, "Behind the chaos, things are happening".

It's true, says the article, that this presidency is a huge farce at which nobody is laughing, an amateur administration fuelled by an orgy of semi-literate Twitter messages, by vicious attacks, counterattacks and vituperation.

But don't be misled by the noise. This president has changed a lot and he does try to do what said he would do.

He has attacked bureaucracy and made life easier for US businesses. He has reduced the tax burden. Wall Street is wild about the man and America is booming.

The dark side of all this is, of course, the fact that, once you do away with the safety nets, all kinds of social and environmental abuses rear their ugly heads.

Trump's foreign performances have been less funny: relations with Moscow are still glacial, there's been no progress in Syria, or the Middle East more broadly, there's a dangerous doubt about the way the North Korean nuclear threat is being handled. The image of America as the global exporter of democratic values is more tarnished than ever.

Le Figaro ends by saying it's too soon to draw up a charge sheet on this presidency.

But it is clear that Trump has failed to reform himself, refusing to take on the mantle of seriousness and calm which has traditionally gone with the top job.

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