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France Press review

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French press review 17 June 2017


French press pays glowing tribute to Helmut Kohl "father of unified Germany" who died on Friday. And appeals to voters for a last-minute surge to deny President Macron imperial powers over France.

Le Parisien carries a full blown version of the historic photograph of the German Chancellor and President Francois Mitterrand holding hands in front of the Douaumont Ossuary near Verdun, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of World War 1, between the French and German armies in which 300,000 soldiers were killed.

The picture dates back to the 22nd of September 1984, as they commemorated the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the World War 1.

According to Le Parisien, Helmut Kohl, who ruled his country for 16 years (1982 to 1998) goes down as the father of German reunification and a pillar of European “construction”.

The publication notes that history will remember Kohl as the towering figure who forced the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbatchev, US President George Bush, and Germany's European allies to allow the reunion between former communist East Germany and the Federal Republic in 1990, less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Le Figaro also pays tribute to the man who made Germany "one and the same country again". The paper speaks to German Chancellor Angela Merkel who told the conservative publication that Germany was blessed to have Helmut Kohl as its leader.

La Dépêche du Midi agrees, holding that Helmut Kohl was not only an imposing personality but a towering personality who more than everyone else for a long time symbolized the physical power, the economic strength, the prosperity and weight of Germany.

For the regional paper, Kohl was also the most skillful of his peers, a visionary gifted with flair and a sense of history discovered, when the two Germanys rushed towards each other to become a single nation.

 L'Alsace recalls remarks made by Kohl in his last interview before illness had the better of him when he expressed his pleasure at having lived a fantastic era. The publication based just across the German border says the people of the Alsace region also enjoyed the good times thanks to Kohl.

According to the paper, people visiting West Germany in the 1970s and 80s at times at risk of being arrested for trespassing into East Berlin never imagined that the Germanys would become one nation or that Check Point Charlie the border crossing between the DDR and West Germany would become a touristic resort.

For L'Alsace, the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 28 1989 was the highlight of his career.

The paper says he was quick to understand the urgency of "taking advantage of the alignment of the planets", adding that it took him just 20 days to propose the plan which led to Germany's reunification to allied forces present in the country.

On the eve of Sunday's run-off parliamentary elections, Libération says it all appears to be a done deal for President Macron. The paper wents its anger that the young leader stands on the verge of sweeping 75 percent of seats in the house despite scoring just 32 per cent of ballots cast in the first round.

Libé argues that whatever the size of their victory, the new majority is bent on maintaining dignified political life in France, then it needs to show respect for the other parties, by quickly introducing a dose of proportionate representation in the National Assembly. Such a reform would in Libération's opinion "guarantee the opposition a contingent of elected officials which is not ridiculous".

"Handing full powers to a single man is not part of “progressist heritage" observes L'Humanité. The Communist newspaper urges registered voters who couldn't turn up for the first-round ballot to come out and prevent the so-called "parliamentary unanymism" which it claims is under preparation.

Le Figaro deplores the apparent failure by both the left and the conservatives to mobilize their electorate during the mid-election campaign.

That, according to the paper, it was already mission impossible for ex-President Francois Hollande backers or Socialist back bench rebels, placed in the same basket by voters who are keen on punishing them for the five years of inaction and sterile politics.

With regard to the Right, Le Figaro says the Republicans, licking the wounds of losing an election they were tipped to win one month ago, added that the anguish of defeat has deepened divisions and the acrimony of their electorate.