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French press review 11 October 2018


More on the still impending French government reshuffle. And, one year after the Weinstein scandal, are women any better off?

Le Monde and Le Figaro continue to poke at the carcass of the French cabinet, due to be re-shuffled in the wake of the departure of interior minister, Gérard Collomb.

The problem is that Collomb announced his resignation a week ago, and there's been a deafening silence ever since. A week is, as the saying goes, a long time in politics.

Yesterday, we talked about the way the political opposition has beeen having a field day. This morning, Le Monde's political analyst, Françoise Fressoz, says that even the ruling majority, Macron's very own marchers, are now beginning to feel the strain. Not just the four or five ministers who have already been tried and executed by the press, but the rank and file, worried that the impression of political amateurism is beginning to overshadow the founding principle of Macronism, "neither left nor right".

If, as is alleged by his enemies, the president is unable to find a capable replacement for Collomb from within his own camp, and if, as has been more-or-less dependably reported in the press over the past week, he has been unable to find any would-be defectors on either the left or right, how is Emmanuel Macron going to weather the storm of next year's European elections?

Le Monde says the only winner as this débâcle plays out is the prime minister, Edouard Philippe, himself a right-wing defector, but one who has remained true to his liberal, pro-European principles.

While certain of his cabinet colleagues, former left-wingers, are struggling to digest the president's social policies, and others, former civilians with zero political experience, are simply struggling to act like credible parts of a government, the prime minister is looking good.

But there's a great danger in being too popular when you're the second in command. Especially when the boss begins to take flak in the opinion polls.

All calm on the government front

Le Figaro interviews some of the ministers believed to be under greatest pressure, and finds a team marked by serenity, calm and confidence in the future.

As the government members emerged from yesterday's cabinet meeting, to face a blizzard of questions from journalists concerning the stormy conditions which might have marked what was surely the final curtain for some of the actors, they invariably pointed to the clear blue sky over the capital, with not a cloud in sight, much less a storm.

The more realistic among them might have been suggesting that the current warm spell would be a good time to begin a career as an ex-minister, but the president told them all to be good, to ignore the malicious rumours in the press, and to get on with their jobs. Emmanuel Macron told his ministers that "the reshuffle is of no interest to anyone apart from the political journalists who have nothing better to do". Some of the less-than-secure members of the government team might reasonably consider that to be a bit of an understatement.

One year after Weinstein

Mercifully, there's left-leaning Libération, which shuffles the reshuffle to an inside page, giving the honours to the #MeToo movement which followed the revelation of widespread sexual predation in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. One year on, says Libé, many women are less likely to be silent victims and the question of equality is accepted as central, despite the efforts of various conservative opponents.

It is too soon to know whether we are witnessing a revolution in sexual relations, says Libé, but we have certainly lived through 12 months which will forever mark the history of feminism, hence of humanity.

If not a revolution, at least we've seen a revolt.