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France

French press review 16 November 2010

All the papers are reacting this morning to President Nicolas Sarkozy's cabinet reshuffle. "New government, new priorities," leads the Catholic Daily la Croix. The paper reports that Sarkozy will present the 'roadmap for the rest of his presidency, with a front seat set to be given to the country's finances'.

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Communist l'Humanité doesn't see Sarkozy's priorities as relevant to the working man, as we could quite reasonably expect. "The new Fillon Government is Sarkozy's war machine," reads the headline. The paper decries the "commando government" that "intends to continue its counter-reforms and intimidate the unions."

Perhaps the most interesting angle today is one that is surprisingly picked up by both conservative Le Figaro and its left-wing nemesis Libération. They report that Sarkozy's lurch to the right with his new cabinet may prove to be very risky as it may create a strong opposition within his own party.

"After the reshuffle, the men that threaten Sarkozy," reads the front page of Libé.

The men it's referring to are the Gaullist ex-PM, Dominique de Villepin, the man who wanted François Fillon's job, Jean-Louis Borloo, the former Defence Minister Hervé Morin, and another former PM, Jean-Pierre Raffarin. All of these folks could be described as centrists. And presumably together, they are capable of cutting huge chunks out of Sarkozy's wide electoral base come the 2012 presidential elections.

This is not missed by Le Figaro's journalists. It's billing the 'Beginning of the Battle for the Centre" just below its masthead. It cites Borloo, Morin and François Bayrou, the head of the Modem party as contenders for the crown of king of the middle ground.

Libération is predicting the end of Italy's gaffe-prone controversy magnet Silvio Berlusconi. Following the recent resignation of four of his key ministers the paper says il cavaliere's "excesses have caught up with him."

The ongoing legal investigations into various corruption charges and innumerable scandals surrounding his penchant for young nubile ladies will, the paper says, be his downfall.

The "bonga-bonga" in which he allegedly partook with a young Ruby, was possibly a step too far. The country's most widely distributed weekly Famiglia Cristiana recently described him as "as sick man with no self-control." A sentiment that is gaining ground among the electorate.

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