French press review 21 December 2015

Spain faces political uncertainty as ruling conservatives fail to win majority in Sunday's parliamentary elections; UN Security Council resolution prescribes dialogue and negotiations as way forward in Syria but approves intensification of the war against ISIS.  And Burundi's estranged President threatens war against African Union if it deploys a peace-keeping mission in his country


The Spanish legislative elections, the landmark UN resolution on Syria and the Islamic State armed group's propaganda war are the top stories making the front pages this morning.

Le Figaro leads with a photograph of a stranded-looking Mariano Rajoy, the incumbent Spanish Prime minister, contemplating his government's fortunes after Sunday's polls. 

His ruling conservative Popular Party's won 123 out of 350 parliamentary seats, failing to secure the majority he will need to form a new government. The PP's traditional adversary, the Socialist Party, came second, but it is the far-left upstart Podemos who are celebrating, after arriving in third place with a fifth of the votes.

As Rajoy sought solace in his party's emergence as Spain's greatest political force with 26.8 percent of ballots cast, with Podemos at 21.7 and the Socialists at 20.5 per cent, according to exit polls Le Figaro claims, he is a winner who will need allies. The paper expects Rajoy to probably look at the newly-created centre-right Ciudadanos party, which came fourth in the vote, which could prove insufficient to form a majority alliance.

Libération marvels at the spectacular surge of Podemos party in a country that has performed a miraculous economic revival at the cost of austerity. The country was on the brink of brankruptcy only four years ago, recalls the left-leaning nespaper.

They made it through painful sacrifices and salary cuts which the conservatives claimed credit for. That turned out to be insufficient to secure them a clear win in Sunday's vote holds Libé.

There are contrasting reactions from today's papers to the adoption of last week's UN Security Council Resolution on Syria.

L'Humanité underlines that this is the first time since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in March 2011 that the 15-member body has voted unanimously to call for a ceasefire (except in the fight against ISIS and the Al-Nosra Front) and the setting up of a transitional authority in the war-ravaged country.

According to the Communist party daily, the text which "places Saudi Arabia and their allies in front of their reponsibilities", not only opens the way for a political solution to the conflict but places the fate of Syrian President Basher al Assad on hold. It should be recalled that Washington and its allies had made Assad's exclusion from Syria's future a a precondition of any accords on the country's future.

 More so for l'Humanité, the wordings of the resolution are a recognition that the military operation has failed and an admission at last that negotiations between the different components of the opposition and the authorities in Damscus will be necessary in order to set up a transitional authority in Syria.

Le Figaro on its part sounds the reservations expressed by Syrian opposition groups about the resolution, notably the challenge of meeting a six-month deadline to set up a transitional authority, with just 30 days to pick its delegation.

For the Catholic daily La Croix, the superpowers' admission of the military option's shortcomings is an implicit recognition that Pope Francis was right when he called a solution based on dialogue and negotiations in their efforts to restore peace in Syria.

Today's Libération carries everything you may want to know about the Islamic State armed Group's poweful propaganda machine. The Jihadist group, according to the paper, has borrowed techniques from the cinema industry, spin, dramatization to its choice of vocabulary. Unfortunately, according to the paper, their thinkers learnt their art from our modern society, notably the impact of images and the power of social media to spread the nauseating ideology.

The crisis in Burundi is a most preoccupying issue to today's La Croix, in the wake of a resolution passed by the African Union's Peace and Security Council to deploy a 5000-strong mission in the violence-prone Great Lakes country.

The Catholic daily says hate speeches by both the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups and attacks on three military camps which resulted in the death of 87 people have left the country on the brink of an Rwandan-style genocide.

More so the paper says that Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza has objected to the force's six-month mission warning that they will be considered as an occupation force and dealt with accordingly

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