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France Press review

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French press review 14 June 2017

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French and British fans set aside centuries of rivalry to pay tribute to Manchester and London terror victims, as Macron and May attend friendly football match in Paris. And what next for "stubborn" Justice Minister Bayrou as Macron's sweep of parliament looms?


Several commentators are quick to underline the starkly different political fortunes of the British and French leaders in the past week. As President Macron's party heads for a massive parliamentary majority, Prime Minister May lost her slim advantage in the House of Commons, as she prepares to open negotiations on Britain's exit from the European Union.

Le Parisien says that despite the “hard “Brexit talks awaiting the British Premier, her Paris visit was a big moment to lift her spirits. It was marked by a beautiful tribute for the victims of the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London at the Stade de France.

At the thrilling friendly international, which France won by 3 goals to 2, the order of the national anthems was reversed, leading thousands of French fans to put aside centuries of rivalry, war and their own history of regicide in a moment of cross-Channel solidarity.

But, diplomatic niceties aside, La Presse de la Manche prefers to look at the harder lessons Theresa May must take back to London from Paris.

It says Macron certainly remained sceptical about May's capacity to govern her country, with few experts capable of predicting the consequences at home and abroad, of the relative majority her conservative party obtained in last week's general elections.

The regional paper says that even if she manages to keep her job at 10 Downing Street, it is, in the paper's words, "a devalued premier who is trying to survive after failing in her bid to boost her powers through a snap election."

Sud-Ouest says it must have been comforting for Theresa May to hear the French sing 'God Save the Queen' at the Stade de France last night. Sud-Ouest goes on to draw a rather "hard-eyed" contrast between "bad luck" Theresa and "Lucky" Emmanuel.

It also claims that she managed to throw away a parliamentary majority which had looked impossible to lose, as Macron prepares to reap a landslide from Sunday's second round parliamentary run-off.

Macron's campaign promise to overhaul the labour code is one reform his conservative opponents are waiting to give him their support. But left-leaning Libération describes the flagship drive as the most devastating operation to roll back hard warn rights by workers in French history.

"They are ready for the unthinkable", headlines the left-leaning publication with an edited photograph of President Macron and his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe splashed across the front page.

Libé says it was right to warn workers that the “Macronian” projects brandished during the campaign would roll back workers’ rights in a manner few had imagined.

This, it argues, includes the re-drafting of safeguards against unfair dismissals.Also, the paper holds that while it understands the objective may be to facilitate businesses with the aim of reducing unemployment, the unions needed to know what they are up against before they get to the negotiation table.

L'Humanité is more preoccupied by what it calls the looming risk that President Macron's party is now set to sweep all 100 percent of the country's MPs.

According to the daily paper, that's a problem which needs to be addressed urgently if a sense of confidence has to be instilled in French democratic life.

"Only proportional representation can guarantee equality in France", says the paper. It urges President Macron to respect his promise to open a debate immediately on the matter if he intends to deliver a reform by the end of his term of office.

Some commentators have some friendly advice for Justice Minister François Bayrou, urging him to swallow his ego if he thinks he has a future in the new government. This was after Bayrou contacted a director of Radio France to complain over calls by its journalists to his MoDem party, describing them as "harassment".

The public broadcaster had aired an investigation into the hiring of parliamentary assistants by MoDem MEPs.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe rebuked Bayrou for not showing "exemplary" behaviour. But the Justice Minister remained defiant.

This heated exchange between Edouard Philippe and François Bayrou was the first hiccup in the new government.

Les Echos reminds Bayrou to bear in mind the fact that President Macron will probably not need a political ally after Sunday's parliamentary election which he is expect to win by a landslide.

According to the economic newspaper, Bayrou must bear in mind that, after Sunday, he will be an incongruous "offspring" of an old world in a new era.