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French Press Review 30 December 2017


The glass, or if you prefer, the concrete ceiling hampering women's access to senior jobs in France. Talkative or laconic: which President do you prefer? And, tightened security in Paris for New Year's Eve.

The lede story in le Monde declares that "the State does not respect the law on parity for senior officials."

The centrist paper reports that "The Ministry of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Justice have been convicted of violating the legislation on women's access to the senior civil service."

It says the 2012 law, which requires that 40% of new appointments in the hierarchy are reserved for women, continues to be very poorly enforced.

Women are in the majority among civil servants but very much in the minority in positions of responsibility.

By way of example, says le Monde, President Emmanuel Macron's cabinet contains twice as many men as women.

Inside, the paper explores the issue in depth under the headline "Parity - a distant horizon."

"Women are beginning to make their way to the top of the state, but at a slow pace," it notes.

The law of March 12, 2012 provides that as of 2017 40% of first-time appointments are reserved for women, or men, if they are a minority in the administration in question.

The paper quotes Thierry Le Goff, director general of public service, who said "The administration has eaten the white bread." That's to say done the easy stuff. "After years with modest goals, it must advance from 35% to 40% in one year, almost double what has been done since 2013."

Emmanuelle Gagliardi, Associate Director of the Agency Connecting Women, told le Monde "It's no longer a glass ceiling, it's concrete."

Sophie Pochic, co-author of "the Glass Ceiling and the State" believes: "You have to become a nun or a monk of the state to access the highest responsibilities."

Francesca Aceto, President of the SNCF women's network, takes the view "we will not succeed if we do not find something for men." She agrees with the idea of quotas, but says too many men today are expressing shame or blame.

Clearly - parity of the sexes is a work in progress. Though one does wonder how, if indeed Men and from Mars and women are from Venus, the blanket directive can ever be applied in the French Armed Forces.


Left leaning Libération reflects on President Emmanuel Macrons campaign promise of "a triple rule to govern presidential communications. To speak little, not to become banal; talk about important things, not to be trivial; speak with dignity, to maintain the dignity of his position."

This was to distance himself with what came before, what the paper calls (former President François) "Hollande's chatter", odious to Macron and those around him.

Has something changed, the paper wonders.

Of late, Macron has become much more talkative. "A torrent of communication" - is a rough translation of Libé headline.

The paper details his numerous recent appearance on radio, TV and in print.

"None of this implies that Macron has changed his feelings about journalists," Libé says.

He regularly criticised the narcissism and pettiness of journos. Appearing in entertainment programs or favouring social networks, as a way of bypassing traditional channels.

"But the flaws of the old media world no longer seem to be an obstacle to its use by the Elysée Palace," the paper concludes.

His (recent) appearances, perfectly mastered by the Elysee, reflect what the paper calls "a vassalization" of the media.

One of the tasks of journalism is to challenge and hold to account those in power.

Yet, more than a few who have interviewed Macron have been criticised for their deference to the head of state.

Libé agrees with author Alexis Lévrier who says "It's up to the press itself not to accept this relationship of domination."

Presidents who talk too much. Presidents who talk too little. We journalists are never satisfied.


The popular daily le Parisien anticipates tomorrow' New Years Eve revelry reporting that there will be tight security in the French capital and its suburbs with more than 10,000 police, soldiers and firemen on duty.

"The terrorist threat remains high, widespread and homegrown," the paper says. "Often from dangerous single individual using whatever is at hand; a car, a hammer or a knife."

Access to the Champs Elysée, where hundreds of thousand gather to see in the New Year, will be through manned checkpoints only.

And, in case you were wondering, there will, alas, be no fireworks display in Paris this year.