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French press review 15 November 2017

4 min

As France's ruling Republic on the Move party prepares for its first national congress, in Lyon next weekend, right-wing Le Figaro wonders about the foundations of the political house being constructed by Emmanuel Macron. There are more allegations of sexual harrassment. And another scientific warning that the planet is on the road to climatic ruin.

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Right-wing Le Figaro looks forward to next weekend's first congress of President Emmanuel Macron's Republic on the Move party, suggesting that the wheels are coming off.

The headline reads "Six months after Macron's victory, party ravaged by doubt and division", possibly something of an exaggeration.

The claim of collapse is based on the fact that several parliamentary stars of the party are unclear on their plans for the weekend. To such an extent that Richard Ferrand, the party leader at the National Assembly was, according to Le Figaro, wielding the stick in an attempt to get ruling party MPs to make the trip to Lyon.

"We have no choice, we've been told to go," says one unidentified front-bencher, raising his or her unidentified eyes to heaven.

Of course, not all members of the government are members of the marching party. That's the case with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who sees no compelling reason to join a partisan movement. Several of his ministers are in, or perhaps, more accurately out, of the same boat.

Le Figaro says Saturday's Lyon congress is crucial for Macron, especially in the wake of this week's defection of one hundred marching party sympathisers.

The party claims to be in rude health, with 166,000 new members since Macron's election, for a base of 386,000 paid-up supporters. The party says it is better off without those who are unhappy. Unfortunately, the 100 who left this week did so complaining about a lack of internal democracy, with accusations of threats directed against those who criticise official policy.

Young Socialist chief accussed of harrassment

Macron's marchers are not the only political group with problems.

Left-leaning Libération has a front-page exclusive on accusations of sexual harrassment against the former president of the Young Socialist Movement, Thierry Marchal-Beck.

Eight women claim that the man who ran the Socialist Party's youth wing between 2011 and 2013 subjected them to "what could be qualified" as harrassment and sexual attacks. Libé says it has additional evidence pointing to at least four other victims.

The man at the centre of the accusations says he is shocked by the claims and is ready to cooperate with any police investigation.

Libération quotes the testimonies of several supposed victims, without clearly identifying any of them. We thus hear from Louise, Blandine, Diane, Marie and Aurore, all false names, all claiming to have been the victims of a man who used his position of power in the Socialist Party to force himself upon them sexually.

The paper does point out that no complaints were ever filed against Thierry Marchal-Beck and that no legal cases are pending.

Scientific warning on global warming

Le Monde's editorial looks at the letter signed earlier this week by 15,000 scientists from 184 countries, warning the globe's political leaders and other decision-makers that any further delay in acting to slow down global warming will make any action almost useless.

The letter is published against the background of the latest results which show that global levels of carbon dioxide emissions are, once again, on the rise.

Le Monde laments the fact that the typical political reaction is to devise a reassuring slogan, like Emmanuel Macron's "Make our planet great again!" But real policy change is lacking, at international and country level.

Le Monde notes that France, despite a global image as a good green nation, is about to authorise the opening of a giant gold mine in its overseas department of Guiana, has again pushed back the beginning of the closure of its nuclear sites, intends to end the payment of grants to boost the organic farming sector, and is backpedaling on proposals to use a tax on financial transactions to help poorer countries fight global warming.

It all comes down to political courage, according to the centrist daily paper. But it is just possible that the increasing violence and frequency of Caribbean storms and the series of droughts which have ravaged Africa - both directly linked to global warming - may start to create a political pressure of their own.

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