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Press review

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French press review 9 October 2018

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There's a call for nationwide protest against the Macron government social policies, considered insufficiently social by some trade unions. There's more bad news for President Macron in the latest opinion poll. Why do the forces of the reactionary right continue to flog dead horses?


France is on strike.

Centrist paper Le Monde says this is as a result of the first call by the trade unions since the summer holidays for a display of public anger against the social policies being enforced by President Emmanuel Macron.

Students, workers and pensioners are asked to down pens and tools, power up their zimmer frames and take to the streets in protest.

If you believe the unions, the Macron government is destroying the French social model, replacing the values of solidarity and justice with a focus on selfishness which will make life even more difficult for the weakest and poorest.

The organisers are clearly not expecting a very big turnout at nationwide protest marches.

Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT union group, says the success of today's demonstration will not be decided by the number of protestors.

Some unions have decided not to take part, among them the CFDT, whose leader Laurent Berger recently decried the programmatic autumn strike syndrome. The French come back from holidays, they meet, and they call for a strike against government policy. It doesn't matter what government, or which policy. Berger says that is neither efficient nor the CFDT's idea of the purpose of trade unions.

The national rail company and the Paris transport authority both say they are expecting almost no negative impact on their services.

More bad news for Emmanuel Macron

President Macron will probably be hoping that the whole strike business passes off unnoticed. He has other concerns.

Right-wing Le Figaro publishes the results of an opinion poll suggesting that a majority of French voters are pessimistic about the prospects for the remaining years of the Macron presidency.

Two-thirds of those questioned in the poll think the resignation of the interior minister, Gérard Collomb, is a bad sign. Three-quarters of participants think that the departure of one of Macron's closest allies is symptomatic of a fundamental problem in the method of the current government.

Macron's personal popularity has collapsed from a 46 percent rating in May to the current 33 percent.

The president himself continues to stress that his job is a five-year mandate and that he will not be deflected by opinion polls or intermediate elections.

But don't be too surprised if he decides to reshuffle his cabinet sooner rather than later, in an effort to get the show back on the road.

If at first you don't succeed . . .

Left-leaning Libération also looks at a protest movement, suggesting that the recent decision by the national ethics committee to allow lesbian couples and single women to benefit from medically assisted parenthood looks like forcing the reactionaries who campaigned against homosexual marriage in 2013 back onto the streets.

Libé's editorial says the position of the traditional forces is complicated. They've already lost two battles, first against the civil solidarity pact, then against homosexual marriage. And the torrents of perversion and perfidity which we were warned would sweep us and normal society away have failed to materialise. Civilisation has not come to an end.

That's the problem with such reactionary protests, according to Libération: the aim is not to protect those who are protesting, but to limit the freedom of others.