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French press review 8 March 2018

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A look at the four contenders for the post of first secretary of the French Socialist Party in the wake of last night's televised debate. Can the far right National Front party survive the leadership of Marine Le Pen? Why is North Korea's Kim Jong-un smiling so much? And how much does the daily newspaper Libération cost?


Le Monde's electronic edition looks at last night's televised debate between the four men competing for the job of first secretary of the Socialist Party.

The lads spent most of their time raking over the ashes of François Hollande's presidency.

Le Monde says it came down to a two-horse race between Hollande's agriculture minister and government spokesman, Stéphane Le Foll, and the hard-left member of the European Parliament, Emmanuel Maurel.

Maurel is a supporter of the railworkers, he wants more pay for everyone, better treatment for civil servants, a war against tax and financial cheating.

Le Foll called for party unity and a focus on the future.

That, in the immediate, will mean the party congress at which the new chief will be chosen early next month.

A debate studded with inaccuracies

Conservative paper Le Figaro watched the same debate but with a less forgiving eye.

Three central themes emerged for Le Figaro: how to exercise power, how to develop France, and how to deal with Europe and, more broadly, globalisation.

The whole affair was studded with inaccuracies, both statistical and linguistic, according to the right-wing daily.

We learned that France is a "fiscal paradse" and that the vocation of the new, born-again Socialist organisation is to become "the party of everyday life".

The task of that everyday entity will be nothing less than the reconstruction of "a new humanism, based on the rehabilitation of living together". At least that's clear!

One contender, Luc Carvounas, assured us he wants to create "a rainbow left, pink, red and green", showing a very poor grasp of the visual part of the electromagnetic spectrum and of the constituent colours of the average, non-socialist, rainbow.

Le Pen shoots her party in the foot

Le Monde's print edition looks at another struggling French political organisation, the National Front.

The centrist paper says leader Marine Le Pen's abject failure in last year's presidential campaign has completely wiped out nearly a decade of effort to turn the far-right organisation into a respectable political entity.

Le Pen herself has suffered a huge reverse in personal popularity, leading to a collapse in the number of French voters who believe the National Front would be competent to participate in government.

Traditional far-right supporters remain faithful to Madame Le Pen, which is good as far as it goes, but perhaps hammers another nail into the coffin of her efforts to bring the party into the mainstream of national politics.

Diplomatic thaws and furry toys in Korea

On the international front, Le Monde wonders why North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is getting so cosy with his estranged South Korean neighbours.

The recent Winter Olympics were the first signs of the thaw; there's to be a summit between the two parts of the peninsula at the end of next month; Pyongyang says it's ready to stop testing nuclear weapons and firing off rockets in all directions, greatly disturbing the neighbours.

The principal reason for all this smiling diplomacy is to get the North out from under the burden of economic sanctions which are strangling Kim's efforts to open up the Stalinist economy to a greater share of private enterprise. Without investment and easy access to local and world markets, North Korea will remain in the doldrums. Hence the smiles, the cheerleaders and the furry toys. Which are certainly better than ballistic missiles.

The price of a daily paper

Today left-leaning Libération comes with two different price tags: for women readers the paper costs 2.0 euros; males have to pay 2.50. It's only for one day, to mark International Women's Day, and the idea is to reflect the 25 percent pay gap between men and women.