Article published the Thursday 07 February 2013 - Latest update : Thursday 07 February 2013

French press review 7 February 2013

By Michael Fitzpatrick

Will the birthplace of the Arab Spring become its grave? Are trade union militants planning to run riot in Paris? How can lide insurance help construction? And should you send Granny to Transylvania?

Libération's main story looks to Tunisia in the wake of yesterday's assassination of the anti-Islamist lawyer, Chokri Belaïd. The paper's main headline reads "The revolution betrayed".

The fact is that, in the two years since the departure of the president-dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, his form of repression has been replaced by various Salafist, criminal and opportunist forms of violence, which the Islamist Ennahda government is either unable or unwilling to control.

Dossier: Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution

An editorial in this morning's privately-owned Le Temps, published in Tunis, suggests that Ennahda may indeed be instigating the violence with a view to intimidating opponents.

The prime minister has announced the foundation of a cross-party government; opposition parties have called for a general strike.

Libé's editorial ends with the hope that Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab spring, will not eventually turn into the movement's tomb.

There's violence on the front page of Le Figaro, too, this time a little closer to home.

The right-wing daily's main headline reads: "Police fear rise of strike-related violence". In recent industrial disputes, there have been reports of intimidation of non-strikers, and allegations that equipment was being sabotaged by striking workers. Now Interior Minister Manuel Valls is warning of the probable radicalisation of some disputes and an increase in the level of nastiness.

Trade unions at the troubled tyre manufacturer Goodyear are to meet management next Tuesday. There are reports that some union hard-liners are planning a protest in central Paris the same day and the police are reported to be worried that things could get out of hand.

The top story in business daily Les Echos explains that the struggling life insurance industry is to be asked to bail out the struggling construction sector. Does that sound like an Irish solution to a French problem? Perhaps.

The problem is that the government needs to finance the building of 500,000 new homes every year. And that costs, big-time.

So now someone has come up with the idea of encouraging the life insurance funds to invest some of their readies in the social housing market, in return for which effort they will be granted certain tax and other advantages.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The insurers, who are sitting on a pile of boodle worth 1.4 billion euros, say they'd be happy to play, provided they can be guaranteed a decent rate of return. The finance ministry thinks fiscal advantages should be sufficient encouragement.

Or they could always send around a few lads with baseball bats.

A study group is to report at the end of this month.

Catholic La Croix looks at another part of the housing market, asking how much it costs to have a parent in a retirement home. On average places in publicly run facilities for the less-than-autonomous old run to an average of 1,857 euros every month. And charges in the private sector are off the dial.

The Catholic paper wonders if old age is a luxury which France can no longer afford, noting the German fashion for exporting aged parents to eastern Europe, where costs are lower. 

tags: Arab Spring - Assassination - Economy - Elderly - Ennahda - France - French press review - Mali - Police - Press review - Tunisia
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