French press review 14 December 2013

A study on integrating immigrants sparks controversy. Women fight for their place in French politics. North Korea's future is foggy after a top-level execution. Economic crisis brings life back to Greece's villages. 


Right-wing Le Figaro returns to the report from Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's office on integration. Yesterday's Le Figaro editorial was dedicated to reactions to the proposals that include outlawing racial harrassment and allowing schoolgirls to wear the hijab.

This morning, Le Figaro, somewhat gleefully, announces that President François Hollande is distancing himself from the report and the report is creating other schisms within the government. All of which lead Le Figaro to describe it as a "live grenade".

Le Figaro interviews some of the usual suspects for reactions - Marine Le Pen of the Front National and Green politician Esther Benbassa, who is noted for trying to extend the vote to foreigners.

Tabloid Aujourd'hui en France also picks up on the story. Their headline roughly translates as "The President puts Ayrault back in his box".

The daily's special envoy who is in French Guiana with the president says that Hollande is exasperated by the report saying that it is amateur, although it was written with the help of several experts in sociology.

This doesn't stop one commentator in Le Figaro from describing the report as "Orwellian jargon" that creates a vision that risks playing with the very notion fo society. This is perhaps hyperbole but it is certain that this sort of furore is not what the embattled president needs just three months before the municipal elections.

Libération seems to have its eye on those elections.

On its front page it declares that women are the future of politics: "la femme est l'avenir de l'homme politique" a sort of play on words as politicians in France are still often referred to as "homme politique".

The paper has several profiles of women elected to office across the country. But it is not all plain-sailing.

The women say that the question they are most frequently asked is who looks after the children when they are campaigning and getting treated like suffragettes in council meetings. Male-female parity has been one of the priorities of the Hollande administration. Libé remarks that parity is not the same as equality but that the main thing is that women are improving their position in politics.

Le Figaro has a front-page photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's uncle being held by guards. He has been executed and Le Figaro says that this will plunge the Asian country into a fog of uncertainty and that it reveals rival family clans in the heart of the secretive regime.

Catholic paper La Croix looks closer to home.

It carries a report on Greece and how ordinary people are facing up to the crisis besetting the country.

That includes getting back to the land. Greeks are moving back to the countryside where their parents came from and are learning to fend for themselves. This is leading to a revitalisation of village life.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

La Croix gives several statisitcs on the state of Greece's economy, but the most striking is probably that 23 per cent of the population live below the poverty line, according to the EU statistics office. The situation in Greece does have an impact on the rest of Europe and this could be felt more acutely after 1 January when the country takes the rotating presidency of the European Union.

It will get to set the agenda and that will be - predictably - growth, employment and migration. It will also look to tackle the rise of what La Croix desribes as "anti-democratic forces".

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