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IN THE PRESS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2011-11-21

Are we in Arab Autumn?

Spain's election gives a new right-wing government a mandate for austerity. Egypt is once again in the throes of violence and uncertainty as a vote beckons. And in Libya, is justice possible for Saif al-Islam? That's the focus for this press review, Monday 21st November 2011.

El Pais headlines "the crisis gives all the power to Rajoy". His landslide victory as leader of the Popular Party gives him a mandate to steer through austerity measures demanded by Spain’s EU partners. The editorial says: "There can be no delay to Spain’s future". El Pais urges Mariano Rajoy to disclose specific details of his plans immediately. If not, his campaign strategy of being vague on his proposals could backfire.

USA Today says the vote was nothing less than “a referendum on the Spanish government’s handling of the economy”. It headlines: "Spain elects conservative in response to debt crisis". And notes Rajoy’s promise to ensure that Spain "will stop being part of the problem and will become part of the solution".

Violence in Cairo is prompting editorial writers to ask if "a second Egyptian revolution" is underway. The London-based pan-Arab paper Al-Quds Al-Arabi argues a battle "between two elephants" has come to the fore, between the ruling military council on the one side and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other. The paper says the confrontation was inevitable and it is astonishing the truce between the two sides lasted for so long.

The Egyptian paper El-Gomhuriah (“The Republic”) - which is pro-ruling military council - says the violence now is due to the very nature of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is both political and religious. The paper says the Muslim Brotherhood is mainly responsible for the violence.

The Jerusalem Post, meanwhile, says in an editorial that “the transition from dictatorship to civilian rule is an admirable goal but rushing into elections might make Egypt’s first free vote its last”. It argues the situation now points to a Muslim Brotherhood win and so the possibility of what it calls “another tyrannical Islamist regime”. The Jerusalem Post argues the Obama administration “instead of opposing a delay in presidential elections” might support it. Should the military be allowed to hold on to executive powers for another 18 months, the newly-elected parliament - the Post believes - could have the time to hammer out a constitution that protects human rights and basic freedoms.

And cartoonists in the British press look at events in the Arab world. Following Saif al-Islam’s capture, one question being asked is how safe is Saif? The Independent’s cartoon suggests his trial in Libya is a foregone conclusion. The words “fair trial” are written out in a rope that someone is putting up to hang him. The Guardian takes a pessimistic look at events with a cartoon showing the Arab Spring’s leaves fallen. We are now in the Arab Autumn, the cartoon suggests. Among reactions online, one from Xenakis says: “It will take decades to throw off the iron mantle of religion when it comes to politics … however, I do believe that it is way too early to call the Arab Spring a failure.”

By Nicholas RUSHWORTH

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