French newspaper round-up 10 November 2016


The papers react with shock, horror and apprehension to the election of Donald Trump to be the 45th president of the United States of America. Yesterday’s surprise result carries lessons for journalists, opinion pollsters and political analysts. And also for far-right candidates in Austria and in France. 

Left-leaning Libération’s front cover has a dark image of Donald Trump, and the headline “American Psycho,” a reference to the 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis about a New York trader who murders people with razors, nail-guns and flaying tools. The paper’s editorial is headlined “Worse than nightmare”.

Libé notes that Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front is delighted at the outcome, hoping to use the Trump victory to boost its own anti-media, anti-immigration, anti-elite dynamic.

After the rejection of Europe by British voters and ahead of an Austrian presidential battle which is looking promising for the far right candidate, Marine Le Pen is charmed that the attempts by political and media elites to shape public opinion have been hammered in the United States. She hopes to be able to draw energy for her own presidential campaign next year from Trump’s win.

Campaigning against immigrants, imports and intelligence has worked in Washington. Why not in France?

Libération notes, incidentally, that many of Trump’s more outrageous statements would not be tolerated among her own troops by the leader of the newly scrubbed National Front.

There is, of course, the danger that the Trump presidency will be a disaster right from the start, meaning that a too close association with yesterday’s victory would harm Le Pen’s chances. And there’s also the possibility that the Washington shock will wake up the French left to the need for unity and pragmatism in the face of popular discontent.

The first hundred days of President Trump

Right-wing daily Le Figaro asks what the first hundred days of the Trump presidency are likely to produce.

The president-elect has promised to change the constitution to limit the number of terms served by Members of Congress. He’s going to freeze federal employment. He’s going to abolish all rules that make business difficult. And he’s going to make it illegal for foreigners to finance American political campaigns.

Climate crisis? Global warming? Get outta my face!

More prosaically, Trump says he will withdraw the millions of dollars promised by the US to the UN climate change programme, relaunch the Keystone pipeline project blocked by Barack Obama on ecological concerns, take America out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade deal, lift restrictions on the use of America’s energy reserves, currently valued at 50,000 billion dollars. Just think what that will do to global warming and the price of oil on world markets.

He is also going to name a judge to the empty seat in the Supreme Court and start expelling two million undocumented criminals. Washington will refuse visas to any home countries which won’t take them back.

And he will ask Congress to approve the building of a wall along the Mexican-US border, the construction to be financed entirely by Mexico.

It is not yet clear if Trump intends to go through with his oft-repeateed threat to put the defeated Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, in jail.

The anger of ordinary Americans against a ruling elite

Le Monde’s editorial is headlined “A victory for anger,” the article saying Trump’s win is an expression of the popular rage against professional politicians. Ordinary Americans have had enough of being talked down to by a ruling elite. They have decided to hand the reins of power to a lying racist, sexist, xenophobr and homophobe, a billionaire who has not paid one cent in federal taxes in the past 20 years, a man without a single ounce of political experience.

Le Monde says this election result will mark history as deeply as the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the 11 September attacks: like those who supported the British vote to leave Europe, Trump played the antiglobalisation card, promising to control immigration and thus protect incomes. That sort of simplistic right-wing thinking has consistently been proved wrong. But it wins votes, nonetheless.

Traditional political parties, the pollsters, journalists, all have lessons to learn from this outcome. With a special lesson for French voters: Le Monde warns that in a world in which the unimaginable can become a reality, the extreme right can take power in France.

How much will it cost Britain to get out of Europe?

And while we’re on the subject of nasty political surprises, Le Monde notes that their decision to leave the European Union is going to cost Her Majesty’s subjects between 35 and 45 billion euros, according to French calculations. Between 50 and 60 billion according to the European Commission.