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What the papers said 6 April 2018

rfi English, Apr 6

There's more on government efforts to streamline the business of government in the papers; more on transport strikes; and the tragic fate of Cyriopagopus albostriatus.

Le Monde's editorial looks at government proposals for so-called "institutional reform" - like reducing the number of MPs and senators, introducing the system of proportional representation in some parliamentary constituencies, cutbacks in the number of members of various advisory councils, special status for the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.

Le Monde says the reform is going to provoke bitter debate.

Part of the problem is the fact that the proposals are many, complex and concern several totally different parts of the constitution.

Are French deputies and senators going to vote themselves out of work? Because the proposals will result in 30 percent fewer seats in the two houses. And will lead to a carve-up of existing constituencies.

Are those who got elected by the skin of their teeth going to support a move towards proportional representation, long demanded by the far-right National Front?

And what about the idea that you can serve no more than three consecutive public posts, at any level above that of mayor of a commune with fewer than 9,000 inhabitants?

Most of the proposed reforms will require constitutional change and thus the support of both deputies and senators. While the Macron government has a majority in the National Assembly, right-wing opposition senators have the numerical edge in the upper house.

The battle, says Le Monde, has barely started.

Rail strikes not popular! Shock! Horror!

Right-wing Le Fiagro assures us that the French are against the series of strikes organised by workers in the national rail company, the SNCF.

According to an opinion poll commissioned by the conservative paper, and carried out among the harassed millions who struggled to get to and from work earlier this week, a not-too-surprising 57 percent of those questioned said the felt the stoppages were not justified.

Forty-two percent feel the strikers are doing the right thing by standing up to a government that wants to do away with traditional advantages in a crucial sector of the French economy.

Fifty-six percent of Le Figaro's poll sample think the government is right to attempt to reform the rail sector, with 51 percent feeling that the authorities could do more to avoid the disruption caused by the strikes, even if that means conceding certain key demands to the strikers.

A large majority of Socialist voters want the government to abandon the proposed reform. Three-quarters of those who support either the centrist government or the right-wing Republicans want the government to stand firm.

Fifty-nine percent of those questioned think things are going to get worse. With the strikes scheduled to go on in intermittent blasts for the next three months, they could be right.

Tarantula on the menu

Times are hard for the Asian tarantula, better know to experts as Cyriopagopus albostriatus. Libération reports that tourists in Cambodia are paying to eat the unfortunate spiders, called "a-ping" in Khmer, grilled with salt and garlic, resulting in a huge increase in the number of Cambodian spider hunters and a corresponding decrease in the number of tarantulas.

The price of a cooked spider has shot up by a factor of 10 over the past few years. A crispy tarantula will set you back one euro in the market at Skun, not far from the capital Phnom Penh.

This is because the beasts are becoming increasingly rare, those that aren't caught and eaten are suffering the impact of massive deforestation. Cambodia has lost 20 percent of its tree cover since 1990. Rubber plantations and the illegal logging of rare timber for the Chinese market are the main culprits.

Tarantulas are also sold steeped in rice alcohol. They are recommended by traditional Cambodian medicine against coughs and back pain. Many locals say they owe their survival of the Khmer Rouge regime to the protein provided by the spiders.


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