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What the papers said 3rd September 2018

rfi English, Sep 3

There is more Macron-bashing in the papers; back to school and into the "unknown"; another stick with which to beat the president.

For weeks now, many of the newspapers have been berating President Emmanuel Macron at every opportunity. His honeymoon period has been brief to say the least.

They're at it again this week.

"Macron: the machine goes crazy," is the headline in conservative daily Le Figaro.

"While he seemed untouchable," the paper says, "the president is, like his predecessors, caught up by difficulties."

Macron's first year in office had accustomed the French to his respect for commitments made and tightly managed messages. After years of permanent zigzag and muddle at the top, Macron wanted to embody a break from this, Le Figaro explains.

However, "Since July, the foundations on which this new practice of politics has been eroded and threatens to collapse," it says. "We've had the thunderbolt of the Benalla affair (passim), the resignation of Nicolas Hulot and the confusion surrounding the introduction of taxation of income at source." All of which it believes "dangerously poisons the executive."

The paper quotes an MP of Macron's party as saying ""All this gives the feeling that the new world is not that new."

Le Figaro wonders if, perish the thought, we're moving "Towards a 'Hollandisation' of the president?" Macron's predecessor, François Hollande, was the least popular French president since polling began and his Socialist Party was slaughtered in last year's presidential and parliamentary elections.

Le Figaro quotes a Macronist MP who said "a presidential term is often marked by the first year. Now, even if we did things that were exciting, the feeling of injustice, the criticism of the president of the rich, is lodged in public opinion. If we lose on the ecology scene, our electorate will no longer support us."

"The oppositions will do everything to prosper on the difficulties of Emmanuel Macron," the paper concludes. So, it seems, will Le Figaro.

Job vacancy at the environment ministry

The jury's still out on who will replace Nicolas Hulot as ecology minister.

Left-leaning Libération informs leaders that at least one possible candidate is out of the running.

"Daniel Cohn-Bendit will not be the successor of Nicolas Hulot, he announced on Sunday," the paper reports. "According to him, the decision was taken during a conversation of more than one hour with the president of the republic."

Cohn-Bendit - a leader of the May 1968 uprising when he was known as "Dany the Red" - has since recoloured himself Green and been elected to the European Parliament.

As potential replacements for environmentalist poster boy Hulot, Cohn-Bendit suggests Laurence Tubiana, executive director of the European Climate Foundation, and Pascal Canfin, president of the World Wildlife Fund France. Stay tuned.

Back to school ... in confusion

Popular daily Le Parisien gives front-page coverage to the return to school following the long summer break with the headline "High school, college, primary, kindergarten: generation reform."

The paper calls it a "Journey to an unknown land," saying "12 million students will return to school from Monday, sometimes without knowing what to expect."

The paper delivers masses of detail. This quote from Mélusine, who will take her first steps today at the prestigious Henri-IV lycée in Paris, sums up the general tone. "The worst thing is that we do not understand what it's all about . . . it's still very vague. Even my mother does not know. And she is a teacher in high school."

Teachers' unions are none too thrilled, either.

Speaking to Le Parisien, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer tried to reassure pupils, parents and teachers. "It is normal that the subject raises questions but the answers are there," he promises. More details will be published in November, he says.

Both the Catholic daily La Croix and the communist paper L'Humanité give the story front-page coverage and neither are overly impressed.

L'Humanité's headline "School evaluation, the venom of competition."

Yet another hiccup in the government's ambitious to-do list of reforms; and, another stick with which to beat President Macron.


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