French press review 22 November 2016

The papers today stay with the right-wing Presidential primaries showdown here in France between former conservative prime ministers Francois Fillon, and ex-race favourite Alain Juppé. With just five days to go to the second round vote the commentators analyze the campaign manifestos of the two candidates and their prospects of becoming the Republican Party’s flag-bearer in the 2017 race to the Elysée Palace.


Despite Francois Fillon's clean sweep of 87 out of 101 French departments, Libération says he shouldn't take his score too seriously.

Voters it says took the polling stations by storm only to push out former president Nicolas Sarkozy who was too right-wing for their liking.

The left-leaning newspaper tells Fillon not to forget that he is the candidate of enlightened liberals.

Libé also has a message for progressive forces attacking Fillon's radical agenda from all sides urging them to first settle their internecine quarrels over who holds the right to brandish the "Socialist rose".

As the second round of campaigning begins, several commentators warn Francois Fillon not to take anything for granted.

It will be another campaign depleted of all the insults and centered on project against project with an outcome closer than anyone can imagine, according to Ouest France.

In this country where the anti-elite sentiment that propelled Donald Trump to the White House is running high, Le Monde commends the organization of the primaries.

It points out that the process will at least shine renewed light on the philosophies of the two finalists, the "Thatcherite doctrine defended by Fillon and the Chirac era moderate conservatism of Juppé.

Furthermore, according to Le Monde, the characters of the two are also distinct  - on the one hand Francois Fillon, the solid, serious and well-groomed, and staunch provincial Catholic conservative, on the other Alain Juppé, the custodian of a more moderate prudent and realistic right, on the other.

For Le Figaro, Juppé's strategists are desperate to show case the stark differences between their champion's presidential stature and his plans for France notably his pledge of offload 300,000 retiring civil servants over 5 years as opposed to Fillon's promise to shed half a million civil service jobs over the same period on top of allegedly forcing public servants to work longer hours.

Les Echos says it is still hard to know who he really is. The economic newspaper believes he is several personalities at the same time, a "Séguinist" from his schooling under the late Centrist Philippe Séguin, an alleged “Thatcherite by conviction”, and a pillar of ex-President Jacques Chirac's administration.

Still, Les Echos wonders whether Fillon isn't a "clone of his former boss Sarkozy, or simply a second-grade politician struggling to free himself from his chains.

According to the paper, when it comes to electoral matters, there is no posture better than that of a candidate who embraces everything.

From Les Echos' point of view, the fact that one third of left-leaning voters voted for Fillon explains why panic has gripped the campaign headquarters of the National Front, the Socialist party and Emmanuel Macron's 2017 presidential bid.

Cioa Sarko !

Some of Tuesday's papers take another swipe at former President Nicolas Sarkozy whose attempt to revive his controversy-packed career ended in a dramatic manner.

"Ciao Sarko" !, bellows le Républicain Lorrain, adding that by trying to flatter citizens of the right, with demagogic and incomprehensible measures, Sarkozy ended up hurting himself fatally.

The paper holds that citizens whether from the left or right hate being being the subject of mockery and disrespect, which is why they chose Fillon and Juppé in a grim reminder by the popular jury to the world of politics that the people deserves respect.

According to l'Humanité, the breakthrough by the man the ex-president once dismissed as a Mister Nobody is a sign that Sarkozy alleged "decapitation in a public place" isn’t the end of "Sarkozysm".

Le Midi Libre has the last word. "Voilà c'est fini" concludes the regional publication pointing out that French politics and his orphaned lieutenants such as lawmakers Hervé Mariton, Eric Ciotti, Christian Estrosi, Laurent Wauquiez, Rachida Dati, Nadine Morano, Claude Guéant, Eric Woerth and Brice Hortefeux...are now obliged to get used to life without Nicolas Sarkozy.



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