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France

French weekly magazines review

media

The euro debt crisis remains the towering issue in this week’s magazines as Greece and Italy effect regime change, in desperate efforts to save their countries from bankruptcy.

L’Express summarises the stakes in a telling headline, “Europe: the Franco-German putsch”. The right-wing weekly pointing out that the “Eurozone is on the edge of the abyss” and to avoid falling in the Germans and the French dictated their terms to Athens and Rome during the G20 in Cannes.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

To Marianne, nothing better explains the collapse of the plan, drawn up by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, than their objection to the proposed Greek referendum. Marianne blasts the so called “Merkozy” hydra, which dared suggest that the opinion of Greek citizens would not stop them from cutting their credit lifeline.

Le Point argues in an editorial that democracy has been actually overtaken by the economic crisis. The perils threatening today’s democracies, the journal explains, are not globalisation, China, or terrorism as people believe, but individualism, populism and ungovernable societies.

Some the weeklies believe Sarkozy may be profiting politically from the euro debt crisis. Le Point for example explains that, while Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande is having a comfortable ride in the polls, Sarkozy is finding his feet again.

The setbacks of his presidency are unprecedented, it says, pointing to the financial crisis, the collapsing euro, the loss of the Senate and the battle to avoid the downgrading of France’s credit rating. Those problems have only emboldened Sarkozy as he rolls out new austerity measures aimed at cutting the budget deficit and huge sovereign debt.

Le Figaro Magazine notes that the times when austerity and sacrifice used to scare politicians are over. Prime Minister François Fillon’s casual use of the word makes it resonate, not like a provocation, but as a measured expression of Sarkozy’s assumed policy, it believes.

Marianne holds a different line, explaining that plans to make the G20, the launching pad of Sarkozy’s reelection campaign simply flopped. According to the left-leaning weekly the Elysée pegged Sarkozy’s “triumphant march” to reelection on the speedy recovery of the economy.

Unfortunately, it says, he won’t be able to wear the costumes of Europe’s supreme saviour due to the Greek “earthquake”.

Le Canard Enchaîné holds that Sarkozy is shooting himself in the foot by carrying out a “methodical massacre” of the tax cuts of the first four years of his presidency.

The satirical weekly bets that the president has kept the harshest measures for later, certainly after he gets reelected. Le Canard Enchaîné advises Sarkozy not to bother too much, as 2012 could turn out to be a bridge too far.

Le Nouvel Observateur says the left should not allow itself to be dragged into the debate that government’s peripheral reforms and its policy of linking economic stimulus to austerity. The magazine is urging the left to prove that another policy is possible.

In a 20-page supplement headlined “the austerity trap” le Nouvel Observateur names the people it says will pay for the measures: salaried workers, consumers, pensioners and social-welfare beneficiaries. The magazine unveils four models that have the capacity to cure Europe without “destroying” economic growth and starving its people.

Le Nouvel Observateur examines how Hollande is preparing his bid, amid lingering questions about his “conspicuous” silence. The magazine found out that he is not impressed by Sarkozy’s hyperactivity.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

Hollande, it says, is busy working on his project while fine-tuning his reputation as an easy-going politician. Le Nouvel Observateur found out in a survey that 51 per cent of voters don’t believe France has the means to recruit 60,000 school workers over five years as Hollande proposes.

The magazine says the skies are getting cloudier for Hollande: a late challenge from ex-interior minister Jean Pierre Chévènement and a bitter dispute with the Green party over Hollande’s reluctance to scale down France’s dependence on nuclear energy.

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who pushed Sarkozy to end the 40-year dictatorship of Colonel Moamer Kadhafi, has published a book on the Libyan uprising. It is called Waging a hated war and is a compilation of Lévy’s daily jottings of his encounters with the rebels and Sarkozy during the nine-month crisis.

In an excerpt underlined by Le Point, Lévy described the foreign ministry as lightning that could strike at any time and mess up what he calls “a beautiful French gesture”. A pointer to the war fought between the Elysée presidential palace and the foreign ministry at the Quai d’Orsay over the legitimacy of Levy’s mission in Libya.

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