French press review 15 December 2015

France's right-wing opposition in "Hollande trap" after "Republican ballot" victory in Sunday's regional elections.


We begin with the hour of reckoning for the conservative "Les Republicains" party of Nicolas Sarkozy as they contemplate their options after Sunday's regional elections. Everything is on the table says Le Figaro, from the political course to take the party's Presidential primaries and the perrenial issue of alliances.

In an editorial, the right-wing publication warns the main opposition coalition of a looming trap -- the so-called "Republican Front" ex-Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin first talked about in his appeal for the creation of a bi-partisan front with the Socialist government to fight a common adversary -- the National Front.

But as Le Figaro underlines, the Centrists and "Les Républicains haven't listened to Raffarin, their attention distracted by the relief of having avoided the worse and the political uncertainties of the immediate future.

Yet Le Figaro says they ought to listen to him as there are indeed reasonable grounds to work towards an alliance of Républican forces , extending from the Socialists to "Les Républicains", beyond issues of convergence such the necessity of emergency and security laws in the aftermaths of the Paris attack.

For Le Figaro, the burning truth is that the Right is not yet done with the National Front, their frustrated voters fuming over the perceived theft of their vote by the so-called "Republican ballot". "The dike resisted by the water level hasn't gone down", concludes the right-wing publication.

Libération doubts there is any interest in embracing a new political culture and reconfiguration of the political landscape.

According to Libé, President Francois Hollande has ruled out any reshuffle of his government and reiterated his intention to stay the course.

It reports that Nicolas Sarkozy's sacking of vice president Nathalie Kosciosko-Morizet for opposing his ban on the "Republican vote" which caused the National Front's defeat is evidence that reform is none of his priorities.

But as Libé argues in today's lead article, it was thanks to a spike by left-leaning voters that that conservative coalition was able to win seven out of the 13 regions, hence its motion that Sarkozy's "Les Republicains" can't claim victory in the election.

And talking about the "Republican" vote, Le Monde says the scale of the last-minute surge, by traditional party voters, in Sunday's vote is unprecedented in the history of two-round elections in France.

The reaction was compartible with the level of danger, writes the evening publication, expressing relief that voters from both sides of the political divide, once again fortified the dike that has kept the FN out of power for 30 years.

But for Le Monde, it will be wishful thinking to beleive that the National Front will stay out of power forever. More so, according to the paper, because the democratic machine is jammed, and no one bothered to repair it breaks down completely.

"What next for French politics ?", wonders l'Humanité. For the Communist party daily, what needs to be done to stop the progress of the National Front is to reinvent a new left, laden with hope. For the Communist party daily, the government must change direction, and set a new economic and social course capable of restoring people at the heart of politics.

Politicians must rethink their ways, agrees La Croix. According to the Catholic daily, the tasks of reinventing a new concept of governance lies in the hands of the conservatives who won former Left-wing bastions thanks to the support of swing voters from the left and the far right.

On of the regions presented by the newspaper, is the Ile de France capital territory where former Higher Education Minister Valerie Pécresse defeated National Assembly President Claude Bartholone, thanks to the support of National Front voters.

Election exit polls show that the first round support for far right candidates dropped substantially, with pollsters saying that they preferred to punish the Socialists for plotting their defeat in strategic regions which they had been favoured to win after posting strong gains in the first round.

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