French press review 02 January 2013
Despite the optimism and hopes of a fresh start, French newspapers remind us that 2013 will be another year of challenges and tough decisions for the country and President François Hollande. Also, an Ivorian musician is giving away music for free to fight against the Islamist takeover of northern Mali.
Libération is in surprisingly cheerful form this morning.
The left-wing paper's editorial says the idea that 2013 is just a final hurdle to be struggled over before the economic turn-around promised for 2014 is absolute rubbish.
Despite what Libé wonderfully calls "the informed ignorance of the experts," there are lots of reasons for optimism. Not withstanding the record unemployment statistics, negative economic growth, deminishing purchasing power and the ever warmer planet, the next twelve months are going to be marked by social and fiscal justice; a law allowing marriage for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation...we're going to see exemplarary behaviour by those who rule us, and more wealthy than us.
2013 will be the year of sharing and solidarity, of smiling optimism against the gloomy prophets of doom.
One man who has a head start in the optimism stakes is Tiken Jah Fakoly, the Ivorien musician who has written and recorded a song calling for peace and reconciliation in Mali.
The song is called An Ka Wili (that means mobilisation and action in Bambera, one of the most frequently spokern languages in Mali), and the disc was being given away free yesterday in Bamako.
Fakoly says the gift is his way of opposing the Islamist extremists who have occupied much of northern Mali for the past nine months. If nothing is done, he says, mythical towns like Timbuktou, Gao and Kidal will no longer be part of Mali. Tiken Jah Fakoly was a political refugee in Mali during the civil war in Côte d'Ivoire between December 2010 and April 2011.
Interestingly, the musician tried to take part in a New Year's Eve protest against the northern take-over on Monday evening in Bamako, but the local police refused permission for the demonstration, citing the danger of a terrorist attack.
But enough optimism already.
"Growth" is the key word in the headline in the business paper, Les Echos, but the financial daily offers two versions of the immediate future.
One follows French president François Hollande in saying that economic growth will be slow but certain; the other, supported by dastardly analysis by several high-ranking economists, says the recession is not going to be very deep but it is going to last.
Le Monde also comments on the French president's New Year wishes, saying his promise to turn the unemployment figures around, allied to his determination to make the French economy grow and increase national competivity, is pure ritual: the sort of things presidents have to say at the start of the year.
Sadly, says Le Monde, the presidential performance will have done nothing to calm the deepest fears of many French citizens.
America has managed not to fall off the fiscal cliff for the time being, but that doesn't mean the behemoth federal debt has turned into a cuddly little furball. Obama's America is still up to its hind legs in financial troubles, and the merest stumble will send the rest of us into recession.