French press review 21 April 2016

Text by: William Niba
6 min

Is France suffering from Macronitis? Economy minister Emmanuel Macron surges past his bosses in the latest opinion polls; More questions about Donald Trump's Presidential stature after his massive win in the US Republican primaries.



The question of the economy minister's skyrocketing popularity is triggered by a new survey by the Viavoice polling agency for Libé that shows Macron is now the best candidate to represent the Left in the 2017 presidential elections.

The rockstar of French politics is far ahead of Prime Minister Manuel Valls and President Francois Hollande. The survey shows that up to 38 per cent of French voters now see Macron as the best presidential candidate for 2017.

The figures are 8 percentage points above Macron's rating a month ago and 21 percentage points better than his standing in November, according to Libé. The left-leaning newspaper says Macron may definitely be "en marche" (On the Move) the name of his recently launched movement which has the same initials as his name. But Libération doubts he has what it takes to sustain his current popularity.

La Croix

Emmanuel Macron's offer to scrap the wealth tax so that "success can be rewarded" could help in preventing the exodus of entrepreneurs. But the paper argues that what needs to be done is to "tax the money when it is being passed over to heirs".

For La Croix, the wealth tax is quite "polarising". The Left views it as a "sacred cash cow" while the right-wing parties see it as punishing success.

However the Catholic daily says it won't be fooled by Macron. According to the paper, he put the issue on the table simply to stoke his rivalry with Prime Minister Manuel Valls even though he may deserve some credit for "introducing fresh ideas into a frozen landscape".


Macron offered to scrap the wealth tax when right wing presidential candidate Bruno Le Maire was clamouring for a reduction of capital gains tax from 60 to 25 per cent.

The Communist daily predictably denounces the proposal. According to L'Humanité, liberals see the unpopularity of President Hollande as the perfect opportunity "to destroy the French social model".

Le Monde

The Left has for long described the first round exit of Lionel Jospin in the 2002 presidential elections as an accident, says the left leaning daily. It believes that the Socialist-led majority in power appears resigned to face the unexpected political disaster which is about to become a fatality in 2017. Things could have been different,  says the daily, with François Hollande credited with catastrophic popularity ratings and a record too poor to convince anyone. Le Monde also holds that he can't even count on a completely "devitalised Socialist party."

Le Figaro

The stage is set for the US Presidential elections in November and from the verdict of the primaries it will be Donald Trump for the Republican party and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic party.

For Le Figaro, while "President Donald Trump" sounds increasingly like a reality, "if democracy is respected.

The paper also remarks that many Americans are "rebelling against the paradox of the consultations which have produced two unpopular condidates".

According to the right wing paper, Trump would lose because of his inability to answer the questions responsible voters are likely to ask.

Yet for Le Figaro, having Hillary Clinton as his opponent may be Trump's best chance to win, especially after crushing Jeb Bush, the representative of another dynasty, in the primaries. What he needs to do "to become credible", according to Le Figaro, is to "fine tune his Presidential stature, control his irritating ego and that's not obvious".

Yet, the daily also thinks it will be "easier for Donald Trump to reinvent himself more than Hillary Clinton, which is why she shouldn't underestimate the battle she has to fight" to get to the White House.

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