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French press review 18 February 2017

4 min

What would happen if the French papers failed to mention either Donald Trump, François Fillon, Marine Le Pen or Emmanuel Macron on their front pages? We're certainly not going to find out this morning . . .


Le Monde has Fillon, the struggling right-wing presidential contender, and his apparent change of heart on the integrity of French justice.

Having promised, just two weeks ago, that he would be cleared of all wrongdoing by the courts, the former prime minister has now decided that he will submit only to the judgement of history and the wise tribunal of the electorate.

To read Who is François Fillon click here

The court that's been investigating Fillon's history as a private employer using public money having decided that there may well be a case to answer, Fillon has decided to stuff it up his jumper and make a barefaced final effort to get himself elected. As president he would at least have five years immunity from prosecution.

Undaunted determination from the candidate of the centre and right

Right-wing Le Figaro has the same François Fillon smiling on its front page, assuring all who are prepared to swallow a rat that he'll keep going till he wins.

In an interview his change of heart is there to see in black and white.

Even if he is brought to book for taking on three members of his family - the missus and two kids - as parliamentary assistants, for a total wage bill of nearly one million euros, he is not going to withdraw from the presidential race. The man who won the primary by sneering at the legal histories trailed by some of his opponents, notably Alain Juppé and Nicolas Sarkozy, can no longer claim to be Mr Clean. Now he's Mr Innocent Victim.

The intolerable suffering of an innocent victim

He tells Le Figaro that he has had to suffer intolerably - lies, attacks, the slow pace of justice, attempts to disrupt his travel plans - the whole nasty conspiracy intended to deprive the electorate of the centre and mainstream right of their knight in slightly tarnished armour. That electorate can rest assured: Sir Francis is not a man who can be stopped by a few million euros-worth of accusations. He will fight to the death.

And what does the electorate of the centre and mainstream right think of that valiant determination?

Well, Le Figaro's readers' poll on the question do you think Fillon can win the presidential election, with over 112,000 votes, 57 percent were saying no, and 43 percent saying yes. And Le Figaro, I need hardly remind you, is addressed to a predominantly right-wing clientele.

Too clean, Benoît Hamon vanishes without trace

Meanwhile, poor old Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party's chosen man, is quietly going about his business, talking to the troops, visiting the neighbours (he is in Portugal as we speak). But, because he's not suspected of having robbed either French or European money, he's practically invisible in the media. The man who said that crime does not pay clearly knew nothing about French politics.

Ructions as Paris Olympic team chooses English slogan

Left-leaning daily Libération has a different scandal on its plate this morning - the committee which is behind the Paris bid to host the Olympic Games in 2024 has chosen a slogan in - shock, horror - English to sell the French capital. Worse, they've stolen the slogan from Pizza Hut!

Yes indeed, the nation of Proust, Victor Hugo, Lamartine, Ferré and Brassens could do no better than "Made for Sharing".

Two groups dedicated to the promotion of the French language have decided to go to court to object to the slogan, not because it normally sells pizzas, but because it breaks the 1994 law forbidding the use in advertising of any foreign expression when a perfectly good French equivalent exists.

The crucial question is, would the IOC and the world in general have understood the rejected French suggestions- "Je veux les jeux" (I want the Games) or "La force d'un rêve" (The power of a dream)?

Bernard Pivot, a true guardian of the values enshrined in French language and literature, says the choice of a slogan in English is "an asinine error, a huge gaffe, a stupidity". Reminded that he is thus rejecting the language of Shakespeare, he replies, "and of Donald Trump". To which there really is no answer.

Los Angeles is the current favourite to win the 2024 race, mainly because of the immense financial support of the tech firms in Silicon Valley and NBC's seven-billion-euro bid for the television rights.

Trump's travel bans may, of course, reduce many athletes to waiting in the airport for a flight back home.

LA's current slogan is the, possibly unfortunate, question "Where will you be in 2024?"

Perhaps in Paris?

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