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French press review 19 November 2014


You can have the news fried, boiled or scrambled this morning but the front pages are not likely to cheer you up much.

Conservative paper Le Figaro looks forward to next year's French departmental and regional elections, saying that the ruling Socialists are terrified of yet another crushing defeat.

Libération continues to analyse the drift of certain young French people into the ranks of the most radical holy warriors, currently fighting with the Islamic State (IS) armed group in Syria.

Communist L'Humanité says the latest statistical portrait of France produced by the national economic statistics institute, Insee, shows a country damaged by austerity.

Catholic La Croix marks the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, saying progress remains to be made.

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Let's start with the statistics.

According to the latest annual portrait of France, published yesterday, long-term unemployment has increased by 56 per cent over the past five years, the wages of the poorest have declined by six per cent and the number of people claiming the most extreme form of social security because they have no other rights, has increased by one quarter.

The report says the crisis is having most impact on those who were already poor before the global financial markets began to go pear-shaped. One quarter of the poorest 4.5 million French people can't afford to feed themselves properly, one quarter don't have a place to live and one tenth can't afford medical treatment.

The main findings are that the labour market has deteriorated, the number of those barely surviving has increased and salaries have basically remained stagnant since 2008.

Says L'Humanité, the areas worst hit by long-term unemployment are the disadvantaged suburbs of the larger French cities. And austerity policies as practised across Europe are clearly responsible for prolonging the effects of the crisis.

Le Figaro says the Socialists, crushed in the last two electoral outings (municipal and European) are scared they're going to get more of the stuffing knocked out of them in next year's departmental and regional polls. In contrast, the far-right Front National party is hoping to see its spectacular rise in popularity confirmed.

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The conservative daily says the possibility of further defeats will make the position of Prime Minister Manuel Valls very tricky as he faces a Socialist Party congress in June at which the rebels - those Socialists who contest the wisdom of government economic policy - intend to voice their complaints and claims.

Le Figaro's editorial, wonderfully headlined "The double dead-end", is yet another ritual denunciation of presidential failure, double-speak, error and incapacity.

Libération wonders why some young people are inclined to join the ranks of the most extreme jihadist groups. This, of course, follows the shocking association of a 22-year-old Frenchman with the recent decapitation of an American aid worker and 18 Syrian soldiers. Libé says more and more French nationals are turning to IS and that there is a preponderance among them of converts to Islam.

The paper goes on to say that the diversity of the means of recruitment and the huge number of possible routes to IS's zone of activity make any real control of this tendency difficult if not impossible. And, according to a specialist interviewed by Libération, radicalisation can take place in a very short time, between three and six months separating an ostensibly normal life here in France from the killing fields of Syria and Iraq.