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French press review 26 January 2015

5 min

Greece is the main story on the majority of this morning's French front pages.

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Conservative paper Le Figaro is none too happy to see the radical left-wing take control of the Athens parliament, especially with the Greek left's populist determination to put an end to the austerity regime. Says Le Figaro, the European establishment and the stock markets have both got the jitters. Well they might have.

The right-wing paper's editorial is scathing in its analysis of the future as sketched by far left leader, Alexis Tsipras. Le Figaro says he has been chosen because Greece's desperate voters feel they have tried everything else. But he is lacking in real political experience, does not have control over a past he has promised to change, does not have the means to finance his promised social programme, and will find the going tough if he tries to take the fight about Greek debt to Brussels.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The Figaro editorial starts to smoulder: where, the right-wing paper rhetorically wonders, do you find those who owe you money having the cheek to tell you the conditions under which they might pay back some of it, especially when it's all been spent.

Europe must be careful how it deals with the Greek threat of non-payment, not simply because a Greek refusal to pay would put a huge additional burden on France, Germany and the decent, law-abiding members of the European club, but also because the swollen ranks of the euro-sceptics are avidly watching to see how Brussels deals with Athens. Podemos in Spain, Ukip in the UK, and the far right and far left here in France will all feel their anti-austerity, anti-European positions to be vindicated by a Greek revolt.

Le Figaro is quite clear on what must be done to put manners on those pesky Greeks. Let them pay up or get out. And then, predicts the conservative French daily, all of Europe will be able to look on as the Tsipras experiment goes terribly wrong.

That's not quite how they're viewing the Greek far-left triumph over at communist L'Humanité.

According to the communist daily, the comfortable victory of the Syriza party is the first crack in the wall of European economic solidarity under the banner of austerity, and it offers the hope of a different vision of Europe.

In an editorial simply headlined "Thank you Greece," the communist paper says the Greeks have given all the rest of us a magnificent lesson in real democracy, showing both political maturity and immense courage. Greek voters have ignored weeks of external pressure warning them that the only way forward is to continue with the leaders and policies which have led the nation to perdition. They have had the courage to change direction, and they have thus given the struggling masses across the Old Continent reason to hope.

Always assuming, of course, that things don't get even worse for the unfortunate Greeks if they do decide to go their own merry way back to the dear old drachma.

Left-leaningLibération gives pride of place to Alexis Tsipras, calling him "The new face of Europe". The paper also quotes the Syriza leader as saying the shared future of Europe can not be one of austerity, it must be a future of democracy, solidarity and cooperation. Alexis has managed the democracy bit with his weekend electoral triumph. But Mutti Merkel, the German chancellor, for example, might feel that Europe has already shown a lot of solidarity and can reasonably demand a tad more cooperation from the musaka munchers.

Libération's editorial is sober, suggesting that no reasonable Greek voter really thinks that the brave new world starts this morning. They have voted to reject a system, without being sure if they've chosen a workable alternative. It is now up to Europe to find a compromise.

Le Monde and La Croix both look at aspects of France in the wake of this month's terrorist attacks in Paris. Le Monde wonders if the country is now effectively living a sort of apartheid system, with social and ethnic ghettoes proving the failure of education and housing policies intended to reduce the gaps between communities.

La Croix notes that the government is keen to develop the way in which religion is presented in the nation's schools, but the catholic daily points out that the obligation to preserve a strict neutrality is likely to make any real improvement very difficult to achieve.

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