French press review 22 August 2015


Greece's Alexis Tsipras faces uncertainty as key allies defect to form a new party ahead of key elections; Donald Trump's wild card messes up casting for the White House race; a posh funeral for Rome Mafia Capo sparks a scandal in the Italian capital; and a massacre is averted on a Paris-bound passenger train as a heavily armed jihadist is overpowered.


Several papers express consternation at the miraculous foiling of a terrorist attack Friday on an Amsterdam-Paris train with 550 passengers on board.

Le Parisien reports that a gunman, aged 26 and originating from Morocco, was armed with a Kalashnikov but was subdued by two off-duty US servicemen after he shot a British man and a French woman in the neck.

Le Figaro says the condition of one of the Americans is serious, but it says that it is a miracle that a bloodbath didn’t take place as he was also carrying an automatic pistol and a box-cutter. According to the publication, the gunman is an acquaintance of France’s anti-terrorist squad and reportedly boarded the train without required documents during its stop-over in Brussels.

Several papers published accounts of the circumstances surrounding the shooting. One passenger tells Libération that he saw a Kalashnikov being pointed at him seconds before the American servicemen pounced on the gunman.

Le Figaro says that at a season when holidaymakers are returning from their summer the unprecedented shooting on a passenger train raises the question of onboard security for the railway carrier. According to the paper, for months the probability of an attack had been on the planning charts of security services without any hints whatsoever about how or where the jihadists were looking to perpetrate their barbarism.

Le Monde’s front page spread is about the hunt for a new majority by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. This is after he announced his resignation on Thursday and called for fresh elections in a month’s time. As the evening publication recalls, Tsipras no longer has a majority in parliament since 25 lawmaker of his Leftist Syriza party defected to form a new movement in the fallout over the austerity plan negotiated with Greece’s creditors.

Le Monde sat down with Yanus Varufakis, the ousted Greek finance minister in search of a new political destiny and looking to present a list against his former Syriza party. Varufakis is reportedly expected to be the guest star at the traditional “Rose Feast” of ousted French economy minister Arnaud Montebourg in Frangy-en Bresse. Montebourg was shown the door after joking that he needed to send French President Francois Hollande a good bottle of wine to straighten him up.

Speaking of Montebourg, Libération says his solo act is unlikely to recoup his political standing of the so-called “frondeurs” or slingers and detractors of President Hollande who have never been so divided.

The Americans are preparing an exciting electoral campaign season for us crows, Le Figaro reports with delight as it measures Donald Trump’s impact on the race to the White House. According to the conservative publication, the billionaire megalomaniac’s breakthrough in the polls (leading Hillary Clinton in a survey held by television station CBS) is causing a wave of anxiety within the American political class.

As it points out, 15 months to the election with a plethora of 17 Republicans in the race, this messes up the casting and is likely to open a royal boulevard for the Democratic candidate.

And Le Figaro comments about the stupefying funeral granted in Rome Friday to mafia don Vittorio Casamonica whose clan reportedly runs drugs, fraud and extortion rings in the capital. The 65-year-old who died of cancer was laid to rest after his coffin transported in a gilded horse-drawn gold-plated carriage through the streets of Rome.

The sumptuous funeral saw rose petals being dropped from a helicopter. Posters outside the church in the east of the city declared Vottorio Casamonica the "King of Rome", while mourners were greeted with music from the film "The Godfather". Libération says the lavish burial left Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano and Rome's Mayor Ignazio Marino fuming with rage. All the city's police chief had to say was to admit "a failure in the system", according to Libé.

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