French press review 18 December 2015

Western Europe is basking in one of the warmest winters on record. Why? How badly has the French economy been affected by last month's terrorist attacks in Paris? And what future is there for the sort of left-right coalition that beat the extremists in last weekend's regional polls?


It's remarkably warm here in Paris this morning, and it looks as if 2015 is going to go down in history as the hottest year so far. Le Monde asks why.

Technically, it's all down to an anticyclone, an area of high pressure, which has been parked over southern Europe, more or less continuously, since the end of October. That's forcing rain-bearing depressions to the north, soaking the unfortunate inhabitants of Iceland, bathing western Europe in masses of balmy air coming up from north Africa.

Statistically, 2015 currently ranks as the fourth hottest year since records began back in 1900. 2014, 2011 and 2003 were the other warm ones, and there's still a chance that 2015 will blaze past 2003 over the next few days and secure third place. Meaning that the three hottest years on record all fall in the last four years.

Globally, 2015 is looking good to take over from 2014 as the hottest year since records began in 1880.

And 2015 will also go down as the year in which atmospheric carbon dioxide reached the 400 parts per million level, never having exceded 300 parts per million over the past million years.

The French economic groth figures are much less impressive.

According to Le Monde, last month's terrorist attacks have had a powerfully negative effect on gross domestic product. According to the centrist paper, if you deduct the efforts of the European Central Bank, the fact that the price of petrol and the value of the euro are both extraordinarily low, then French growth for the entire year comes in close to zero.

The national industrial sector continues to do relatively well, but hotels, restaurants, transport and leisure services are all reporting weaker demand in the wake of the November attacks.

Over at right-wing Le Figaro, they must be looking at different figures.

According to the conservative daily, French growth in the first six months of next year is likely to improve by nearly half a percent, suggesting that the government prediction of a 1.5 per cent increase in gross domestic product is possible in the course of 2016.

Le Figaro's main story offers to analyse the impact of the current state of emergency on the already less-than-united political left. While no one criticises the basic idea that murderous attacks require a muscular reaction on the part of the authorities, certain uses of the emergency regulations . . . against ecology activists and trade unionists, for example . . . and the possibility that some of the emergency legislation could become part of the constitution, are causing disquiet in socialist circles.

Left-leaning Libération is not too happy at all the talk of a grand left-right coalition in the wake of last weekend's regional elections in which a one-sided version of such a coalition successfully saw off the danger of a far-right Front National victory.

There's been lots of mutual back-slapping, says Libé, but no real political movement. With presidential and parliamentary elections on the near horizon, Libé does not expect anything fundamental to change before the dust settles after the next showdown at the polls.

Since Marine Le Pen of the far right could well be in contention in the second round of the presidential race, a new republican coalition will be needed to ensure her defeat. A national government with figures and policies from both left and right would then be a logical outcome.

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