French press review 29 November 2016

There's more about that man Fillon, especially on the likely impact of his victory on other political formations and individuals. World heads of state seem to be divided on how far to honour the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. And what will happen if Italy votes against change in Sunday's constitutional referendum?


Le Monde gives the honours to François Fillon, the winner of Sunday's primary election to choose a right-wing candidate for next year's presidential race.

The headline is the rather paradoxical "The conservative revolution". The man himself is an undoubted conservative; the way in which he hauled himself from the position of rank outsider to ultimate clear winner was fairly revolutionary.

But that's about as far as it goes. If he gets to be president next May, says the centrist daily, Fillon is unlikely to propose anything very original.

Western leaders shun Castro send-off

Speaking of revolutionaries, Le Monde also notes that world leaders are divided on the attitude to take to the late Fidel Castro. There's to be a special ceremony later today in the Cuban capital, Havana, but the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, is the only European head of state who has said he'll show up.

There'll be no US President Barack Obama, no Justin Trudeau of Canada. French President François Hollande is sending his ex-missus and Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal. UK Prime Minister Teresa May won't be there. Neither will Chile's Socialist President Michelle Bachelet. China and Iran are sending vice-presidents.

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe is, however, going to attend, as is Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta and South Africa's Jacob Zuma. Zuma may well be wondering if he'll still have a job to come back to when the Cuban bash is over.

Trouble at t'mill

Le Figaro shifts the front-page focus from the victorious and unifying François Fillon to what the right-wing daily calls "The psychodrama at the summit".

What they mean is that things are a tad on the tense side between the current president and his prime minister, the first unwilling to say whether or not he's going to get off the presidential pot, the second dying to get into the fray himself, but constrained by fidelity and political commonsense to wait until his boss gives him the green light.

Le Figaro says the two men had lunch yesterday, describing the atmosphere as "cordial", after which a smiling Valls denied that there was any danger of him resigning from the government.

"This is no time for a political confrontation between a president and a prime minister," he said, referring to the ongoing state of emergency.

What Fillon victory means for Macron

The right-wing paper also mentions Emmanuel Macron, suggesting that the victory of François Fillon is a boost for the former economy minister, now running for the presidency at the head of his own political formation. Fillon, says Le Figaro, leaves a little more room for those crowding into the centre of the French political spectrum.

Left-wing leaking and creaking as right regroups

They're not in great form over at left-leaning Libération.

The front page shows a ghostly ocean liner heading straight for a huge iceberg. The headline reads "The Titanic left".

As the conservatives regroup around Fillon, and the far right sees its support solidify around Marine Le Pen, the left shoots itself in every available foot by multiplying the number of those who want to be president.

Such a stretegy is a virtual guarantee of a first round exit, warns Libé.

But the outcome is far from inevitable, says the leftist daily.

All that's needed is for senior figures in the current majority, on the far left, the centre left and in the ecology movement to show a bit of political responsibilty. But try selling that to, say, Emmanuel Macron or Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Italian crisis looms in wake of referendum

Business paper La Tribune looks at another ship of state that seems headed for the ice cube.

If Italy votes "no" in Sunday's referendum on constitutional reform, several big Italian banks are going to find it very difficult to attract new investment, which they badly need because of the high level of bad debts. A situation that is worrying current investors, including several very big French banks.

La Tribune warns that a "no" on Sunday could provoke a financial crisis in Italy, force new elections and eventually see the country leave the European Union. But the Paris paper thinks such a series of outcomes is very unlikely.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning