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French press review 16 April 2014

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Opinion polls are the thing this morning. The average French person spends one hour 20 minutes on her or his mobile phone every day; does not like François Hollande; and would not vote for Hollande again if the 2012 presidential election were to be rerun tomorrow.


I hasten to explain that those results come from three separate polls.

Tabloid Aujourd'hui en France wants the French to put down their mobile phones and get back in touch with the real world.

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Fifty per cent of the population have a smartphone, three-quarters of them never go nowhere without it and nearly 60 per cent of users describe themselves as addicts, needing to consult their phones several times every hour.

Libération carries the latest presidential popularity rating.

Just 18 per cent of French voters currently approve of their leader, leaving him 40 points behind the new prime minister, Manuel Valls, apparently an all-time record gap between the president and the government leader.

Then, when you get to Le Figaro, you realise, none too surprisingly, that Hollande would no longer be president if the election were to take place tomorrow. The old nightmare, Nicolas Sarkozy, would romp home, closely followed by Marine Le Pen of the extreme right Front National.

If poor old François has been reading the papers over his morning croissant, there must be crumbs on the Elysée ceiling, because even left-leaning Libération is having a go.

Rank-and-file Socialists are up in arms because the government didn't dare ask the money-men in Brussels for a bit of slack on the French promise to get the national debt down to three per cent of gross national product sooner rather than later. Libération says a majority of Socialists - party activists and elected representatives included - have turned their backs on the men at the helm.

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Communist L'Humanité looks to Strasbourg, where the European Parliament is this afternoon due to consider a new law aimed at controlling "posted workers", s called not because you can get them for the price of a stamp but because you can have a foreign employee work here in France and pay him the legal minimum in his country of origin.

L'Humanité says the new legislation won't do enough to stop the dumping of cut-rate workers in countries like France where labour costs are already sky high.

Silvio Berlusconi has, once again, escaped the slammer. The 77-year-old former Italian prime minister has been ordered to work four hours per week in an old people's home for the next 10 months. If he does it and stops criticising the judiciary, he'll be otherwise free as a bird and will thus escape the original four-year jail sentence imposed for tax fraud.

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He's also been told by the judges that he has to sleep in his own bed. Which leaves the old geezer a certain amount of scope.

There's been no reaction from the inmates of the Holy Family home for dependent old people where he'll do his public service. Unkind commentators say Silvio's 20 years in Italian politics involved very little in the line of public service.

He could still see the inside of a prison, since Il Cavaliere faces separate charges in an underage sex case (seven years' porridge, currently under appeal) and is also suspected of corrupting an elected official in Naples. He could be coming soon to an old people's home near you.