French press review 9 April 2013

There's an awful lot of Margaret Thatcher on this morning's French front pages.

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The former British Prime Minister died yesterday at 87 years of age, following a stroke. Opinions on this side of the Channel are divided.

Dossier: The Cahuzac affair

"No tears" says communist L'Humanité, remembering the Iron Lady as the incarnation of ultra-liberal violence.She will never be forgiven for breaking the coal mining unions in 1985 when she refused to reverse her decision to close unproductive sites. The year-long dispute effectively rang the death-knell for unions in general.

At the other end of the political spectrum, right-wing Le Figaro laments the passing of a woman who represented "Courage in power" and who profoundly transformed her country. The Figaro editorial laments the fact that contemporary France has no political figure of comparable stature. Thatcher took the helm of a country on the verge of bankruptcy, says Le Figaro, and, by fearlessly opposing backward-looking trade unions and their narrow interests, she freed the forces of liberal economics.

Apart from trade unions, Thatcher also annoyed Argentine generals, Irish republicans, and the remnants of the Russian soviet regime.

She consistently refused what Le Figaro calls "false consensus," the sort of meaningless deals which have reduced modern politics to a branch of public relations.

Margaret Thatcher will not be easily forgotten.

What else is happening in the French press?

Well, communist L'Humanité gives pride of place to the campaign against proposed legislation intended to make the French labour market more flexible, and thus more competitive. There are to be protest marches across the country today against changes which the communist daily sees as being unfairly generous to the employers, at the cost of the security and long-term advantage of the workers.

BothLe Monde and catholic La Croix devote front page space to the question of tax havens.

Globalisation and ever-increasing taxation have combined to encourage some people, including government budget ministers, to salt away a small portion of their hard earned cash in places theoretically beyond the cruel reach of the taxman's claws. It's not legal, of course, but the benefits are considerable, both for the cheaters and for those offshore bankers who discreetly accommodate their cash.

French politics no stranger to scandals

Just in case you think we're talking about a few rich bastards and their paltry personal fortunes, La Croix estimates the amount of money hidden beyond the reach of any state taxation at 26,000 billion euros, the equivalent of the gross domestic product of the US, Japan and France combined.

Le Monde says political figures are in favour of a more moral approach, which would also boost national tax income. But there are currently no institutions equipped to deal with the problem, so don't expect much to change in the immediate future.

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