French press review 6 September 2012
Barack Obama's chances and public housing in France for those on low incomes, are two of the stories covered in today's French papers...
Left-leaning Libération has a picture of US President Barack Obama on its front cover. As the president prepares to address the Democrat faithful tonight, at the end of the party convention, the paper asks the billion-dollar question: "Can he win?"
Obama will face the Republican Mitt Romney on 6 November, and current opinion polls put the two men absolutely neck-and-neck.
he four years of the Obama presidency have seen a huge increase in the federal debt, and in unemployment, as well as showing that Washington really doesn't have all that much clout when it comes to initiating and championing reform.
Obama came to power on a wave of optimism with his catchy "Yes, we can" slogan. But many people feel that he has failed to deliver the hoped-for changes in American society.
Libération's editorial says Obama was better as a candidate than he has been as president. Much of that can be blamed on reactionary Republican politicians who have blocked and badgered him every step of the way. And, of course, the global financial crisis hasn't helped.
But the fact that he now finds himself struggling in the opinion polls against a pair of social and economic dinosaurs like Romney and his little-loved running mate, Paul Ryan, tells its own sad story of voter disenchantment.
Obama needs to come up with another killer phrase later today if he's to have a fighting chance of another four years in the White House.
Right wing Le Figaro casts a critical eye on French government plans to encourage local councils to build more houses for the less-well-off, rather than helping people to buy their own homes.
The Figaro front-page editorial is a classic blast against the new Socialist government, offering to use scarce state funds to give a cosmetic boost to the employment statistics with a series of measures only more expensive than they are inefficient.
Now, rants Le Figaro, the state-employer takes on the role of the state-landlord. Instead of maintaining the good old right-wing legislation which encouraged the rich to build houses for the poor . . . in return for enormous tax rebates . . . the Socialists are now going to force struggling local authorities to spend their few remaining shekels on building programmes. Obviously, says Le Figaro, without explaining why it's obvious, the quality of construction will suffer, and those who might have been prepared to invest in the renewal of the nation's housing stock, will take their money elsewhere.
And, says the right-wing paper with a final twist of ignorance, arrogance and deep-fried daftness, that will slow down the "social elevator" on which people who can barely buy enough food are somehow supposed to be able to buy their own apartments.
I wonder if what Le Figaro is really worried about is the fact that current government proposals would force comfortable, leafy, well-heeled suburbs to consecrate 25 per cent of available housing to, shock, horror, maids and dish-washers and the poor people who mind the rich kids.
Communist daily L'Humanité continues to campaign against the European Budgetary Pact, ostensibly intended to save eurozone economies from drowning in their own debt, but which the comrades at L'Humanité are convinced is an attack on national financial sovereignity and a blatant encouragement to the speculators and fat-cat bankers who will use the proposed legislation to their own, very un-communist, ends.
L'Humanité says 72 per cent of the French would like to have the matter put to a referendum, presumably so that they could vote "non".
Perhaps more significant, according to the communist daily, will be the effect of the debate on the solidity of the Socialist government, where many MPs are privately against the pact, but may not have the courage to vote against it when the dust settles after the parliamentary highjinks.