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French weekly magazines review


The magazines mark the brightening political fortunes of French President Nicolas Sarkozy as he made strong gains in the opinion polls for the second consecutive month. And there's concern over the giant task facing Italy's new PM and the election facing Spain's outgoing one. And there are new allegations about Dominique Strauss-Kahn's sexual appetites.

"Sarko II, what an unbelievable return!" screams the Le Point in this week’s cover story. The right-wing magazine found out from the latest BVA tracking poll that Sarkozy’s approval rating progressed by seven points over the past five months while his Socialist challenger François Hollande dropped four points, as the euphoria from the Socialist primary settles down.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Le Point says Sarkozy would have preferred higher figures, the new trends show growing support for his management of the euro crisis and his flagship policies.

Le Point lists 10 reasons why Sarkozy remains upbeat about his reelection prospects and explains that he is banking on his experience in times of crisis and the untested character of his main challenger, Socialist François Hollande.

Some weeklies raise squabbling inside the ruling UMP party and persisting threats from the markets. Le Point reports a “sado-masochist” game being played by Sarkozy and his Prime Minister François Fillon. Its “perversity at its worst”, says the journal, which claims that the two can’t stand each other, yet won’t go different ways. Le Point also spoke to former budget minister Alain Lambert who believes Sarkozy can’t win in 2012 and favours fielding another candidate.

Alain Lambert and other rebels may be looking at the devastating effect the Karachi illegal campaign funding scandal on Sarkozy’s reelection bid. Businessman Ziad Takieddine, who is at the centre of the affair, has vowed to “bring down the system” in an interview published in this week’s Le Point. Takieddine told the magazine he isn't afraid of Interior Minister Claude Guéant or Sarkozy, regardless of the fact that he is president.

The Herculean task awaiting Italy’s new Prime Minister Mario Monti draws comments from some of the magazines. Le Point explains that no one dares joke about the “austere” former EU commissioner any more. He is Super Mario now, with the job of erasing a debt burden of 1,900 billion euros, 120 per cent of Italy’s GDP.

As Spain votes this Sunday, some of the weeklies take the markets to task for undermining democracy. Le Nouvel Observateur explains that Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero is set to join a long list of European leaders overthrown by the crisis in recent times, after Greece’s George Papandreou and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi.

For Marianne, it’s the markets that are overthrowing and replacing governments in Europe, not citizens and the ballot box, which is bad for democracy. The left-leaning Marianne believes another form of capitalism is possible. It defends its position in a 40-page special feature.

Dossier: The Strauss-Kahn affair rocks France, IMF

Le Nouvel Observateur claims the crisis has already changed consumer habits in France. The talk of the day is all about the so-called “système D”, the flourishing online second-hand market and recycled articles, where people are doing good business through “group shopping” and cutting person-to-person deals. The magazine credits the internet for giving vitality to this new collaborative economy.

Some of the weeklies take renewed interest in ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn as he is dogged by fresh allegations of involvement in a prostitution ring. L’Express publishes testimonies of witnesses and transcripts of telephone calls Strauss-Kahn made between 2009 and 2011. It reveals a stunning agenda wherein business meetings merged into private rendezvous with paid escort girls at the Carlton Hotel in the northern French city of Lille.

Le Nouvel Observateur says the Carlton affair lends credence to rising public clamour for morality in politics and calls for an end to the age-old complicity between power and prostitution. According to the magazine, it’s a flourishing business even on Wall Street, where transactions between “luxury” prostitutes and traders are just as hectic as on the trading floor. Le Nouvel Observateur found out that call-girls operating are unlikely to end up broke. Some make up to 10,000 dollars in one single night.

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