French press review 26 August 2017


Emmanuel Macron’s seduction operation in Eastern and Central Europe has been one of the main talking points this week.

But what happened to his suave and sophisticated style?

On the last day of his tour, it seems to have all gone to pot, if you take a look at Le Figaro’s front page.

“Macron’s engaging in an arm-wrestle with Poland” reads the main headline.

The paper says that he’s lashed out at the Eastern European country, the main opponent to toughen up EU rules on posted workers.

Departing from his usual, more conciliatory tone, he had some strong words for Warsaw, saying that Poland “had decided to place itself on the margin of the EU’s history, its present, and its future”.

In its editorial, Le Figaro says Macron is right to take a tougher stance.

It says he’s understood what’s been undermining the European Union’s image: a lot of wishy washy talk and little action.

So he’s now out to seek tangible results, to renew the European project.

“It’s not for Poland to define Europe’s course”, Le Figaro says.

Macron, along with Angela Merkel and other leaders, must remain firm, and snatch a victory, before moving on to other causes.

What happened to the opposition?

There’s been a lot of talk of Emmanuel Macron abroad, but, on the domestic front, whatever happened to the opposition parties?

And in particular, what happened to the French Conservative party, Les Républicains (LR), since their first-round defeat in the last presidential election?

Le Monde says that since then, the right is more and more divided in its strategy.

When three of its members joined Macron’s government, it split into two groups.

On the one hand you have the self-named “Constructives”, who want to work with the Government on policies they can agree on.

On the other you have a harder faction which is rallying behind Laurent Wauquiez, the current favourite to become the party’s next president.

Between the two, you find movements like that of Valérie Pécresse and Xavier Betrand, as well as member of the party’s youth, who would like both sides to come together.

But Le Monde says the party is on edge, and disintegrating, and that the risk of a permanent schism is growing bigger.

A time for reflection

Libération says the same goes for all the opposition parties.

“Opposition to Macron, year zero” reads the headline.

“Pulverised by the President’s La République En marche (LREM) party, the left, right, and greens are all trying to gather their troops this week-end, to organise some kind of resistance.”

And they’ve got their work cut out for them, according to Libération.

Especially Les Républicains, as Le Monde has already demonstrated.

Libération says their attempt to position themselves as an opposition force is a “fiasco”.

Their divided clans have organised no less than 6 different meetings in the coming week.

The atmosphere isn’t a lot better at the Socialist Party (SP), according to Libération.

There too, a battle of egos is unfolding, with a string of candidates to take over the party.

They’re also split politically, between the right and left wings of the party.

As for the Front National, they have as many questions to ask: euro or no euro? “Neither left nor right”, as Florian Philippot would have it, or should they move to the far-right of the right?

Libération says they’re in a Shakespearean position, contemplating the skull of Jean-Marie Le Pen: “To be or not to be… a respectable party.”

As things stand, the opposition is one giant mess, according to Libération.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing: at least the intellectual debate is vibrant, both on the left and the right, it says in its editorial.

For the first time, they’ll have to really think out their positions, rather than engage in political calculations…

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