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French press review 8 August 2017

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President Emmanuel Macron is back in the headlines this morning, as he celebrates his first 100 days in office. His wife is too, amidst debate on what role she should play at the Elysée palace. A more serious question is also raised - how could United Nations prosecute Bashar al-Assad ?


Today marks the first 100 days of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.

It’s all smiles for the president and his cabinet, as they prepare for their final meeting before going on holiday.

Le Monde says there will be a lot of back-patting and generous self-appraisal, as Macron stresses his achievements so far.

But the paper is definitely out to spoil the mood, by drawing attention to the thorny issues awaiting the government when they return, in 20 days.

Le Monde predicts that the debate over the 2018 budget will be tense, given the government’s promises to cut tax and public spending.

Its plan to reform the labour code by the end of September will also be a huge challenge, and will more than likely trigger a series of strikes and demonstrations.

All this at a time when Macron’s popularity is already plummeting.

As one conservative MP quoted in the article says, “It’s going to be tough”, and that might well be a euphemism.

How do you solve a problem like Brigitte?

If you think Emmanuel Macron is a bit of a poser, you might not think too highly of his wife, Brigitte.

She has been seen by his side ever since he was a candidate, in a variety of glamorous outfits, as well as, just recently, a beekeeper’s suit.

According to Le Figaro, she was helping to harvest honey in the garden of the Elysée palace. As you do.

But because her role as the president's spouse has not yet been defined yet, no photos could be released to the press.

Le Figaro says the president will soon clarify his wife’s status in a press release and hopes that he will put an end to a polemic that started when he promised to give her a public role, with allocated funds, similar to that of the American first lady.

Tensions kicked off when MPs from the hard-left France Unbowed party criticised the idea of giving public funds to an unelected spouse.

The controversy then spread to the internet with an online petition opposing Macron’s plan, which had collected 267,857 signatures on Tuesday morning.

Le Figaro shrugs it off as a “pointless controversy” and takes a conservative stance.

What would such a reform change? "We already know what the first lady costs. [...] About 450,000 euros a year. A sum which can justified by charity or humanitarian actions,” the paper argues.

“But to officialise a role which does not exist would risk giving it a political consistency that people would not approve of.”

“A job for the family that is hard to swallow," that’s how Libération summarises the whole affair in its headline, with a nod to the hard left’s argument against granting Brigitte Macron an official role just after the government passed a law against nepotism.

Will Assad ever be brought to justice?

In its editorial, Libération is concerned with more serious matters.

“Will Bashar al-Assad ever be judged for crimes against humanity?” it asks, before reminding us of the many crimes it says have been committed by the Syrian regime, as well as the impunity guaranteed by its Russian ally.

One renowned war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, recently resigned as one of three members of a UN commission of inquiry, calling the the Security Council’s inaction “unbelievable”.

But we should not give up on the idea, says Libération.

On pages two to four the paper is running an in-depth report on a special prosecution office in Paris, which specialises in war crimes and crimes against humanity.