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French weekly magazines review 20 December 2015

media DR

French magazines this week analyse the results of last week's regional elections and look into the crystal ball to discuss the upcoming 2017 presidential election, the next major election in France. But the covers are all about the winners and losers in the wake of this month's regional elections.

Left-leaning Le Nouvel Observateur pictures Socialist President François Hollande, far-right Front National leader leader Marine Le Pen and Nicolas Sarkozy of the mainstream right-wing Republicans on its cover as if they were on a slot machine. The headline looks ahead to 2017 and asks “Shall we take the same and play again?”. The magazine asks whether the left should dump Hollande, wonders why Le Pen’s plans have failed so far and speculates that Sarkozy is now fair game.

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L'Obs carries an opinion piece with the headline “Beware, iceberg!”.  France is like the Titanic and could suffer the same fate, it argues. “And now what?” it asks. France has avoided the worst-case scenario, L'Obs feels, since the far-right party did not win a single region, despite polls ahead of the vote showing it could have. But France is now bitterly divided between the right and the left, since the far right did score its highest number of voters so far - nearly seven million, making it, L'Obs says, a real, viable alternative when it comes to the presidential elections. 

Right-wing L’Express has Sarkozy, looking crumpled and disappointed, on its cover with the headline “The real loser”. There’s clearly a lack of ideology in the main right-wing party, it opines, and Sarkozy might be the problem. In its in-depth article, L’Express quotes French politician Robert Badinter: “When a woman lives for a long time with a man, she hesitates before leaving him, even if passion has long gone”, saying that’s exactly what’s happening with the former president, who has lost his lustre, as the regionals revealed.

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But L'Express's editorial is all about the results of the Cop21 climate change conference. With the headline “the colour of hope”, it says that,amid terror attacks and political turmoil, the Cop21 might not have received the attention it deserved but that generations to come will remember that it was in Paris that the historic pact was signed. Despite its usual tendency to criticise the Socialist government, L'Express says that the outcome of the climate conference is a real reason to sing its praises. The main political actors deserve a lot of credit, the magazine declares and singles out one man, Nicolas Hulot, Hollande's special envoy for protecting the planet, for praise as the man without whom this “tremendous” victory would not have happened.

Left-wing Marianne headlines with several questions: “Who won? No one” and “How to break the deadlock?” But it’s also the only weekly to address the fact that Corsica might be a step closer to independence since the nationalist party beat everyone else for the very first time ever.

In its editorial, Marianne wonders why everyone is so quick to jump on the fact that support for the far right is rising because of unemployment. Some countries with relatively low unemployment rates, Sweden or Denmark , have quite strong far-right parties, it points out, whereas some with high unemployment, Spain and Portugal, are “spared” successful far-right parties.

Right-wing Le Point has a special edition on “The secrets of the spies”, with only one line on its cover on the results of the regional elections. Valérie Pecresse, who headed the victorious Republicans slate in the Paris region, is picked out as the figurehead of “the new champions of the right". Its editorial begs the question “What more could you ask for?” and starts straight up by saying that 2015 was an “annus horribilis” we could have done without but, Le Point adds, France has seen worse and is not yet to fallen into terminal decline.

In the past year France has kept a cool head, despite two waves of attacks and a close call with the Front National. However Le Point stresses that, even if the Front National didn’t win any regions, it can no longer be kept away from power.

“Has the far right only risen because of the failures of the traditional parties?” it asks. Will Sarkozy be able to plough on, it wants to know, especially in the light of Hollande's sudden rise in popularity thanks to, among other things, the success of Cop21. It concludes by saying that there’s a real need for reforms, so that France can reconstruct itself. It calls for some changes within the education system, the abolition of the “absurd” 35-hour working week and ends by saying that all the French people want is ... action.

Finally, satirical paper Le Canard Enchainé headlines with a cartoon of Hollande admiring Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who headed the Socialists in Brittany in the regional elections and was tipped to win even before the campaign started. Hollande is saying “Le Drian won without campaigning… a dream come true”.

France after the elections is "hungover, frustrated and grinning insincerely”, the weekly's headline says..

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