French press review 21 September 2015


Rocky road awaits Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras despite his big win in a general election gamble. The Pope charms the Castro brothers on the Cuban lap of his peace mission to the America's. And, Burkina Faso coup plotters reject a West African proposal to restore interim President Kafando ahead of elections.


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is everybody’s star of the day after his Syriza party scored a thumping victory in Sunday’s general elections.

The elections have restored Tsipras’ confidence, crowed the Communist party daily L’Humanité. The daily is obviously pleased that with around 90 percent of votes counted, Syriza looked close to winning an absolute majority in the country's 300-seat parliament, with a smaller nationalist party expected to join forces and push it over the top. That would hand Tsipras a mandate to drive through unpopular reforms agreed under an austerity deal struck with international creditors.

He gambled and won, headlines Libération. The left-leaning newspaper notes that after months of uncertainty and austerity, the country has renewed its confidence in the leftist premier.

For Libération, Alexis Tsipras however has to face three major fractures that have occurred in the country. There is the democratic fracture, with a crushing majority of Greeks who now feel it is useless going to the polls after what they believe is a vote of resignation or acceptance of their fate. The second fracture Libération points to is a perceived capitulation, with Greek voters from both the left and right licking the wounds of their country as it surrenders to its European creditors.

Then there is a third geostrategic fracture exposed by the migrant crisis. According to Libération, while the country remains a transit point for the thousands of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees washing up on its coastline, the Greeks are bitter about the chaotic manner in which the influx is being managed by Brussels. Furthermore Libé says that Greece stands accused from across the EU as the weak link in the European fortress due to its alleged lack of preparedness and geography.

What is most significant of all, according to Le Figaro, is that the Greeks must now face up to a reality that won’t go away. For the conservative publication they must now choose between austerity and misery – the same options they were left with before the vote. Tsipras was elected at the head of the government in January on a mountain of lies which he tried to denounce after his victory in the referendum.

According to Le Figaro, now he has won again, this time betting on the bitter truth – the fact that the country will not escape from the painful reforms imposed by its creditors.

La Croix communes with Pope Francis in Cuba on the first lap of his Americas tour dedicated to peace, pleading the case of the poor and the respect of Planet Earth. The Catholic daily underlines that despite coming to appeal to American hearts, the pontiff kept his distance from the Castro regime by raising substantive issues such as more rights and freedoms for Cubans and to the church to carry out its missions.

La Croix also presents the Pope’s direct flight from Havana to Washington on Tuesday as a strong symbol of the ties he facilitated between the two former Cold War foes. The most spectacular is still to come, holds La Croix, as it looks forward to Francis’ meetings with US President Barack Obama, a speech at the US Congress and at the United Nations where he will be joined by world leaders attending the annual General Assembly of the world body.

Le Figaro wonders if it was premonition or intuition that pushed Pope Francis to launch his appeal in Havana on Sunday. According to the conservative publication, Cuba is a society where the exhausted political regime could disintegrate into a thousand factions when the stature of the 89-year-old Castro comes to disappear.

L'Humanité reviews the difficulties of the Burkina Faso coup plotters, forced into the defensive and perpetrating violence, and trying to pile pressure on the African mediation mission led by presidents of Benin and Senegal.

The Communist party daily reports that pro-coup demonstrators joined by supporters of ousted President Blaise Compaoré's party chased away political and civil society leaders as well as journalists invited to meet with the West African mediation team in a Ouagadougou hotel on Sunday. For the newspaper, the protesters  were either manipulated by the coup makers or trying to sabotage the mediation mission.

According to La Croix, presidents Macky Sall and Boni Yayi had set the immediate reinstatement of interim President Michel Kafando as one of the unconditional demands which were considered as unacceptable by the junta leader Gilbert Diendéré, an ally of ousted President Compaoré.

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