French press review 23 September 2013

5 min

Mutti Merkel, Somali terrorists in Kenya, and French public spending are the stories vying for front page space this morning...

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The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has "triumphed" in parliamentary elections, collecting 42 per cent of votes and narrowly missing the 304 seats which would have given her an absolute majority. Her old mates in the FDP got the stuffing knocked out of them and won't be able to form a parliamentary party.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The Alternative for Germany (AfD), only seven months in business, campaigned on voter fears about the cost of euro zone bailouts, and may just scrape the 5 per cent threshold required to gain representation in parliament. They won't be joining any Merkel-led coalition.

Le Figaro says the chancellor's triumph is the direct result of her economic policy, which have led to increases in the crucial "three Cs" . . . competivity, coherence and, eh, growth. That's a "C"-word in French, "croissance". The right wing newspaper says this towering validation of her policies will enable the German leader to press on with necessary reforms in education and the energy sectors, renew ageing infrastructure and take steps to alter Germany's top-heavy population pyramid.

Communist L'Humanité is less than pleased to see Mamma Merkel back for another four years. For the communists, Germany is the motor of European austerity, and that's a Very Bad Thing. Happily, says L'Humanité, Merkel will have her field of action curtailed by slowing domestic growth, increasing poverty and a rapid rise in the price of housing.

The situation in Nairobi makes the front pages of both catholic La Croix and left-leaning Libération.

The catholic daily relates the Kenyan violence to yesterday's Boko Haram attack on church-goers in Nigeria, and a similar assault on Pakistani christians in Peshawar.

According to La Croix, in order to limit the ambitions of these extremist groups, it is crucial to find a political solution in Syria and get Iran back to the international negotiation table. Such an analysis may show a misunderstanding of the geopolitical ambitions of the various factions vaguely associated with Al Qaeda, but that's another question.

The French president, François Hollande, is getting very close to the all-time record level of unpopularity. With more than three-quarters of French voters dissatisfied with his performance, Hollande is just one point off the low established by François Mitterrand, the other socialist president of the current, fifth, republic.

The man who supervised the opinion poll explains in Le Monde that the president's various efforts to get the nation out of debt, and his handling of the Syrian situation have cost him five points in the popularity stakes, despite (or perhaps because of?) Hollande's recent attempt to explain his various policies on national television.

The satisfaction rating of the prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, remains stable at 30 per cent, unchanged for the past three months.

Dossier: The Cahuzac affair

Australia's new prime minister, Tony Abbot, gets a mention on Le Monde's science pages.

His new cabinet will include the ministerial portfolio with the longest name in the history of democracy (since I knew you'd ask, it's the department of industry, innovation, climate change, science, research and tertiary education).

But Le Monde also notes that the new cabinet has no room for a real science minister – instead, science will come under the industry minister's not inconsiderable charge. This, warns Le Monde, does not bode well for climate change. Nor, probably, for research or tertiary education.

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