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France Press review

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French press review 16 March 2017


French commentators are alarmed by the heavy clouds of suspicion hanging over next- month's French Presidential elections.

Le Monde invites its readers to see how two of the main candidates, the conservative Francois Fillon and the National Front's Marine Le Pen heavily suspected, one for personal enrichment and the other for compromising the rule of law in several cases.

According to the publication, here are two possible future Presidents of the Republic who in that capacity and as custodian of state institutions and President of the Supreme Council of the magistracy openly and without shame speak about the verdict from the polls in an attempt to put aside the ruling of judges. For Le Monde, this is a campaign which is definitely poisoned and torpedoed by scandals.

According to La Charente libre "galloping populism which hasn't stopped garnering votes is also developing formidable antibodies. By breeding contempt and conspiracy or both at the same time, Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen are simply delaying their political doomsday.

L'Est républicain says it is pitiful to see how campaigns for a Presidential election scheduled in 40 days has been turned into a soap opera about judicial investigations, the front runners, reading the lips of judges while the minnows are dripping with cold sweat as they struggle to remain audible.

May be, this is just a sign of the times observes, le Journal de la Haute-Marne. Now is the era of scandals it says, adding that suddenly the illegal and immoral have suddenly become acceptable to French society allowing corrupt citizens to feel comfortable with organizing their collective flight from prosecution.

For Le Midi libre, while this campaign may not have exposed its real face, it has however delivered a virtuous message, that of exposing the hidden characters of the leading contenders and the outsiders.

The French people, it says, now fully understand that the realities of yesterday and promises made are far from what they should expect from the candidates today. According to Le Midi libre, honesty has long ceased to be an electoral value and that is says, means that it will take years to restore trust in the word of politicians.

Ouest-France sums it all in a single phrase. The trend in the country now, it holds, is about conspiracies and a tendency to see things under the prism of suspicions, plots and denunciations by powerful organizations, evil forces and manipulators operating behind the scenes.

With the French right in deep political chaos and left in deep discord some of today's newspapers examine the prospects of On the Move party leader Emmanuel Macron emerging as a magnet of the so-called "useful vote".

The question follows Tuesday's announcement by former Prime Minister Manuel Valls that he would not back Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon and his left-wing tax-and-spend programme. The Communist newspaper L'Humanité,  says that through his decision, Valls had crossed a new stage in his drive to break with the leftist heritage of the Socialist party.

According to La Presse de la Manche, it is not the Presidential elections that matters the most for Manuel Valls, but how he can rally anti-Hamon Socialists capable of winning upcoming legislative elections and forming a parliamentary group, likely to support Emmanuel Macron's government, if he wins the elections.

For Le Télégramme, Macron now stands as the last bulwark against the Far right if he ends up qualifying for the second round of the Presidential election.

Still the paper warns that some of Fillon's voters who have had enough of the Left could troop towards Le Pen, causing an explosion of the Republican right and the start of a period of political uncertainty in parliament without a clear cut majority and for the country as a whole.

On its part, Libération agrees that the glamorous Centre incarnated by Macron looks credible enough to be an efficient antidote to prevent a Fillon-Le Pen second round.

The left-leaning publication says Macron fully understands this and that is why he is clinging to the Centre with the accuracy of a maniac, like a political zebra alternating liberal and social stripes and making sure that no one tells him he is blue with pink stripes or pinky with blue stripes.