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What the papers said 8 May 2018

rfi English, May 8

After a year in office, is President Macron a republican monarch or a reformer?

The papers post more comments about President Emmanuel Macron's first year in office with renewed attention being paid to the striking image of a "Republican monarch", globe-trotter and military man he has emulated, as opposed to his predecessor François Hollande who aspired to be just a normal president.

Communist l'Humanité satirises about the symbols of power he has cloaked himself in, deriding him for having illusions of grandeur or authoritarian tendencies, pointing to his allegedly poor relations with the French media, despite continuing to fascinate people at home and abroad.

According to La Presse de la Manche Macron doesn't consider his job as easy going as he remains at the heart of a battle to secure the emergence of a new France. For the newspaper he has put France on the move again, may be in pain, but certainly with high degree of pride, adding that he has just started in his first year at the Elysée Palace.

Several national publications see his courageous drive to reform the national railway company SNCF as the most eloquent message about how he plans to govern the country. This, as his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe remains locked in talks with the unions, about the debt-ridden company's future.

La Voix du Nord claims that Philippe backed by strong support from public opinion is determined to capitalise on the weaknesses of the strike now supported by less than half of the numbers that backed the movement when it was launched six weeks ago.

Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace says in Monsieur Philippe's mindset there is nothing to negotiate about, as he is in no mood to concede anything on the substantive fundamentals of the reform.

That it argues, is in line with President Macron's method based on his stated desire not to cede a millimetre of ground, especially on such a symbolically important reform as that of SNCF, an old French chestnut, set up to become the flag bearer of all forces obstructing the progress in France.

The latest issue of Le Monde takes up the stakes in the remote French archipelago of New Caledonia where a key independence referendum is due in November. The supplement written just days after President Macron's 3-day visit praises him for what it describes as a perfect outing to the island rocked by decades of campaigning by indigenous Kanak population to break from their old colonial master.

The publication reports that Macron's stop-over in Ouvéa was the most symbolic stage of the French leader's trip, pointing out that he evokes the memories of all the victims of the bloody conflict and the grief experienced by their families and loved ones without distinction, calling on the people of the archipelago to return to the path of peace and reconciliation.

According to Le Monde, Monsieur Macron pledged to do his best during his Presidency to ensure the economic and geo-strategic development of New Caledonia notably in the area of self-sufficiency in food production, energy supply, tourism and blue growth, in the territory which is a strategic foothold for Paris in the Asia Pacific region, but economic inequality has persisted despite efforts to improve living standards for the indigenous Kanak population.

Meanwhile, it's the 8th of May celebrated in France to mark the 8th of May 1945 and the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces.

Le Parisien notes that 73 years on, the public holiday is the subject of renewed grumbling in business-minded circles about France's long holiday calendar and the erosion of the work culture in France.

L'Union argues that the commemoration of May 8, is working towards not just peace, reconciliation and understanding between the French and German people but also demonstrating to the rest of the world that intelligent initiatives can contribute in promoting universal values of humanism.

Ouest-France, makes a strong case for the transformation of May 8, into the Feast of European peace.The paper argues that Europe should never forget the suffering and tears of all those who perished during the Second World War, to keep the world aware of the free world we live in.

As the publication explains there is further need to meditate about the courage and audacity of those who had the inward strength to turn the page of wounds and hatred so that friendship and understanding can thrive again. Ouest France urges today's world to use the May 8 flame to cast away the fear whose shadow of incomprehension and hatred is quite visible on our walls.


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