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French press review 1 September 2018

The "Black week of Emmanuel Macron." And PR savvy hunters reinvent themselves to outfox (sic) the enviromentalists.


Judging by some of this morning's papers things are going less than swimmingly for France's young President Emmanuel Macron.

The cover story of left-leaning Libération is headlined "The time of doubts" over a photograph of a pensive-looking Macron.

The paper cites "hesitation over collection of income tax at source" and "a complicated reshuffle after the resignation of Hulot".

That's Nicolas Hulot, the celebrated environmental activist who was France’s ecology minister before quitting last week because of what he claimed was the Macron government's failure to do enough to combat climate change or to protect biodiversity. The final straw appears to have been its giving way to pressure from the hunting lobby, greenlighting the annual slaughter of even more native species.

The paper anticipates a weekend of reflection to solve three major challenges.

It says "Emmanuel Macron must . . . learn the lessons of three very different crises all directly affecting him."

The latest is his hesitations on the reform of income tax. "The new kid who wants it, he takes action," said the French, who elected him. Seeing him hesitate, says Libé, they can make fun of him.

The second is the replacement of Hulot. Libé thinks the departure of the Minister of Ecological Transition has raised the question of the compatibility of Macron's economic liberalism and the protection of the environment.

Finally, he hasn't finished with the consequences of the Benalla affair. Perhaps you recall the tangled tale of Alexandre Benalla the Elysée bodyguard who beat demonstrators while posing at a policeman. There's that and, more damaging, an alleged Elysée cover-up that followed.

The paper says it is Macron's use of power that has been questioned.

Inside the paper wades through the grisly detail. The big picture, it says, is "For Macron, a completely polluted return" [to work after the summer holidays].

"Even his worst enemies would not have dared to wish him such a calamitous political return."

Really? One suspects they are enjoying his discomfort.

Nigrum octo

Conservatives le Figaro calls it "the Black Week of Emmanuel Macron."

The paper walks us through the upsets day by day.

  • "Monday: A budget already contested; Tuesday: Hulot the thunderclap; Wednesday: Indignation over the 'intractable Gauls'; Thursday: Taxation at source, confusion at the top."

By Friday, Le Figaro notes, "according to the latest polls, the head of state is close to the unpopularity scores of his predecessor." That's François Hollande? who was less popular than any president since polling began.

Licensed to kill

Centrist daily Le Monde considers the hunters who, in part, triggered Nicolas Hulot's quitting the government.

In a story headlined "Hunters, 'the biggest ecologists in France'?" the paper says "To change their image, hunters have adopted a new strategy."

Le Monde cites posters published by a pro-hunting group, which carry the legend "They participate voluntarily in safeguarding the biodiversity of our countryside."

In addition to posters, the paper says, an audio piece is broadcast on 850 local radio stations and a video on social networks. In the short musical film, the verbs "to discover", "to study", "to protect", "to love" scroll on the screen, against the backdrop of sunsets, counting operations of birds and wild animals frolicking across large spaces. There are no image of rifles, not a glimpse of any dead game. The verb "to hunt" has been obscured.

French hunters now use the vocabulary of the environmental organisations that they have battled against since the 1980s, says le Monde..

Aside from seeing the back of Hulot, they persuaded the government to halved= the price of a hunting licence.

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