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French press review 12 March 2018


Is China walking back to Mao? What is in the new name of the French far-right party? And angry French fans attack football players for poor results.

China: “imperial temptations”

Several commentators this Monday reflect on Sunday's landmark vote by China's parliament lifting limits to presidential terms.

Le Parisien reports that only 5 of China's 2963 lawmakers voted against, or abstained, during the plebiscite approving an amendment of the constitution limiting presidential mandates to two 5-year terms of office imposed at the 2012 Congress of the Chinese Communist Party to prevent a return of dictatorial regimes like Mao Tse Tung's rule from 1949 to 1976.

The paper underlines that the enshrining of Xi's political philosophy in the constitution as well as the leadership role of the Communist party in Article One of the basic law,  opens the way for a crackdown on opponents of the regime, who could now be accused of breaching the constitution .

As the 64 year-old Xi Jinping contemplates his free hand to a life presidency after his current term expires in 2023, Le Figaro reads that the Chinese democratic contagion much touted about 25 years after the disintegration of the Soviet bloc was never an issue in Beijing.

The right-wing publication says the world should bear in mind at all times that two members of the UN Security Council are governed by authoritarian regimes, a trend persued by Turkey.

In the wake of such a muscular evolution, it argues, the only thing democracies can do is to defend Western values even if they weaver in the current context.

Le Pen party name change

Some publications comment about efforts by the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen to rebrand her National Front party after her election for a third term as head of the party.

Liberation says the so-called switch from National Front to National Rally is simply a vote canvassing ploy aimed at the conservative electorate. For the left-leaning paper, the issue confronting the National Front is not whether it can rally more voters but because it is suffering from a shortness of national breathe a condition confirmed by their disappointing performance in the 2017 Presidential elections.

Le Figaro, considers the name change as quite tactful on the part on the part of Marine Le Pen as "National Rally" blends tradition and refoundation. But the paper holds that the finalist of the last French Presidential election forgot to specify the ideological orientation of the new party.

L'Humanité claims that by trying to disguise its name and the far-right party's reputation, Marine Le Pen is on the brink of not just losing the little credibility she still has but witnessing a takeover of the party by Jean-Marie le Pen's rightful heiress, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the young former lawmaker who took a sabbatical from politics to help train tomorrow's leaders.

For the Communist daily, Marine's argument is wishful thinking to think that the brutality of global capitalism, President Emmanuel Macron's authoritarian liberalism the weakening of a combative left, offer her a possibility to sail in a "blue tiding wave" stretching to Austria and Hungary.

Football violence

The pitch invasion and the attempt by unhappy Lille supporters to attack players at the end of their club's disappointing 1-1 draw with Montpellier on Saturday sparks a reactions from some papers.

L’Equipe reacts angrily to the boil over and calls for harsh sanctions to be meted out against the masterminds of the violence. Despite the black season the northern outfit is facing, the sports daily argues, there is a line that should never be crossed by the fans.

L'Union says its heart goes out to the other fans, those who were not involved in the trouble and came to the game with their families hoping to enjoy a fine game of football and ended up watching an unleashing of violence and hatred.