French press review 22 September 2017

How long will the latest Mali peace deal last? How many people showed up for yesterday's demonstrations against proposed changes to French labour law? Why is Angela Merkel odds-on favourite to win Sunday's German elections? And does the departure of Florian Philippot from his job as vice-president of the National Front spell the end of the far-right party?


Peace has returned to northern Mali, according to Libération.

Earlier this week in Bamako, a definitive ceasefire was agreed between former rebels seeking independence and various armed groups supporting the government.

Clashes between the two sides have undermined the peace deal signed in Algiers in 2015.

Observers say the next 15 days will be crucial, as rival forces withdraw from sensitive sites and prisoners are exchanged. If the military reorganisation agreed under the latest deal can be carried out without clashes, the peace has a chance of holding.

The governor of Kidal returned to the city last Tuesday, the first time Bamako has had an official representative in the north since the army was driven out by an alliance of Tuareg separatists and Islamists in 2012.

Work stoppage fails to halt changes to labour law

The police counted a total of 132,000 protesters yesterday at nationwide demonstrations against labour law changes.

The CGT trade union, which organised the protests, gave no precise figures but said the numbers ran to "several hundred thousands".

If the police count is more or less correct, then yesterday's marches were less well-supported than the first round earlier this month when official estimates of the turnout ran to 223,000 protestors nationwide.

Right-wing daily Le Figaro relegates the day's union action to a footnote, saying the turnout was lower than on 12 September and has done nothing to deflect the president from a reform which has been broadly welcomed by the bosses.

Mutti Merkel gets ready for another triumph

Even left-leaning Libération leaves the protesters in fifth or sixth place in its news order, far behind Angela Merkel, the German chancellor who is clear favourite to win Sunday's elections and so extend her 12-year reign.

Libé's editorial suggests a parallel between Germany and France, saying that Merkel is living proof that leaders who carry out their promises are rewarded by their electorates. Emmanuel Macron please note.

French far right party loses its vice-president. Careless

The disintegration of the French political spectrum continues with the departure of vice-president Florian Philippot from the ranks of the National Front.

Le Monde's editorial warns against any talk of the collapse of the far-right movement.

Party president Marine Le Pen collected more than 10 million votes in the second round of the last presidential election in May. It is clear that many people are attracted by her anti-elite, France first, anti-immigrant policies. She will now have to refine her anti-European stance and the rest of her platform without the man regarded by many as the brains of the party. The danger is that the far-right organisation, which has been trying to lose its skinhead image, may now return to the xenophobic, anti-everything stance of its founders.

Le Monde reminds us that many commentators announced the rapid demise of the National Front in 1998, when the then vice-president Bruno Mégret was unceremoniously sacked. Less than four years later, party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen charged into the second round of the presidential battle.

Remembering those who can no longer remember

This is World Alzheimer's Awareness Day.

There are at least 46 million sufferers worldwide, the vast majority of them in the 65-plus age bracket. They are the victims of short-term memory loss, and tend to have difficulties recognising faces, places, the passage of time. Language and rational thought become increasingly troubled, leading to a loss of autonomy.

Caring for an Alzheimer's sufferer in France costs an average of 22,000 euros per year. And, in the absence of a cure or effective treatment, the problem is certain to grow as the population ages.

The best things to do to counter the disease are take exercise, get out and see people, avoid stress, eat well and keep your neurons active by debate and discussion.

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