French press review 6 February 2017

Follow up on the meetings in Lyon of the anti-system candidates are making the headlines this morning.

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Libération and La Croix both headline with far-right National Front (FN) candidate, Marine Le Pen, La Croix underlining the fact that nothing has changed within the party, and Libération saying that the meeting - and her programme - is “anything but normal."

Libé's main article says that the party has changed its form but the content has not changed at all. And Le Pen kicked off her campaign by saying “if they want to live like they did back home, they should have stayed there”, an overt reference to her anti-Islam stance, that ought to show where she is headed.

Libération then explains how Le Pen’s programme stays in the very same line it has always been, thus, in six points.

First, how the French should be the “first served”, and what she calls “national priority” should be written into the Constitution she says.

Borders - needless to say she wants to have greater control over them and limit immigration.

Defence - she wants to bring back compulsory military service and bring the defence budget up to 3% - which currently stands at less than 2%.

Shocker, she wants a referendum to exit the EU, without saying what she would do if, contrary to the UK, it was rejected.

She wants to reinforce what she calls the “national identity”, by re-writing history books showing France only by its glorious past. Sure, that is the way to do it.

And finally, the death penalty - another pivotal point of her programme, but this year, she said she would opt for life long sentences. However, reading between the lines, she actually does not say she has given up on it, but rather that she will have a referendum on it. 

La Croix’s editorial says that, despite what we might think of it, at least, Le Pen has a programme. And it says it is time other parties revealed theirs as well.

Because, as the conservative candidate François Fillon is slowly falling and falling, centrist and former economy minister Emmanuel Macron, also in Lyon this weekend, did not shed any light on his programme. At all.

La Croix says trying to reunite the French simply thanks to “good will” will not be enough, and he needs to finally bring his A-game if he wants to win.

L’Humanité headlines with far-Left Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his "very different meeting" - he held simultaneous presidential campaign rallies yesterday in two cities nearly 500km apart – appearing in the flesh in Lyon and as a three-dimensional spectre - yes, that’s a hologram - in suburban Paris.

Le Monde headlines with a long interview with Left wing candidate Benoit Hamon, who keeps saying “he will not change where he's headed for” - meaning that despite pressure from within the Socialist party, the candidate does not want to budge on his programme.

Hamon speaks about the Fillon affair, and how his difficulties, and those of the Right in general, could benefit him.

But then he goes in deep about his programme, Le Monde asking how he intends on making his “wanted future” even possible. Hamon says it is all about changing the work environment, meaning, changing society - big themes during his campaign for the primaries, and themes he will pursue for the upcoming presidential race.

Other highlights of the interview: how he wants to reunite the Left. Le Monde wonders whether his political discourse can win over some Le Pen voters and/or abstainers.

Le Figaro gives the anti-system candidates small coverage on its frontpage, and sums it up in one sentence for each.

Le Pen is all about the “national interest” (big surprise here), Macron wants to be the one to stand up to the National Front (but, one might ask… How? Will we ever know?) and finally, Mélenchon, Le Figaro jokes, “continues his hologram campaign” implying it is as thin as his virtual version of himself in Paris yesterday.

And while all papers seem to have already buried Francois Fillon, or at least, give the story a rest, Le Figaro headlines with him trying to strike back against the manhunt that has been relentlessly launched against him.

He is bound to address the MPs Monday, to try and convince them of his legitimacy. Good luck with that.
 

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