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French press review 28 October 2011

Friday’s French papers are dominated by reactions to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s appearance on television on Thursday night to explain the results of the Brussels EU summit.

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Le Figaro describes Sarkozy’s performance as an exercise in truth.

It was important, according to the paper, that the head of state himself, explain to the nation the austerity measures that need to be taken to tackle the French budget deficit and debt burden, irrespective of the political risks they may involve.

That was the objective of Thursday’s television appearance, the very first by the Sarkozy in eight months.

Le Figaro explains he hid nothing from the nation, explaining that France and Europe were facing an unprecedented upheaval which will need tough efforts to contain.

The right-wing paper says welfare, public-funded youth job schemes, the 35-hour work week and retirement at 60 belong to yesterday’s world and are not worth shedding a tear for.

Le Figaro quotes the president saying that this is the world of the Socialist Party, that of lavish spending.

Sarkozy with a note of sarcasm joked that his Socialist challenger François Hollande has just six months to readjust his electoral programme with the realities of the new world.

Libération claims that the television programme was made to measure for Sarkozy.

“Me or the crisis” headlines Libé, as it portrayed a president presenting himself to millions of French audiences as the man of the hour.

The paper says his performance clearly confirmed that he is bent on using adversity and abundant presidential air time to invoke a reputation as fighter during the upcoming campaign season.

Libération points to one thing it noted about Thursday night’s emollient show: the fact that Sarkozy was dressed in “Bonapartist garments”, as “saviour of the world”, telling the cameras that he played a crucial role in resolving a decisive issue on the future of Europe and the world.

Sarkozy’s “solo” play, the paper says, stands in stark contrast with the “solid democratic culture” of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who submitted her eurozone policy to lawmakers, the unions and stakeholders.

Le Monde holds that the agreement reached in Brussels on the night of 26-27 October, enabled European leaders to avoid the worst, at least for now.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

By erasing half of Greece’s debt, getting the banks to accept losing 100 billion euros in investments, the Europeans delivered a bold message to the markets. What remains to be seen, according to Le Monde, is whether they have bought the offer.

La Croix believes it’s worthwhile celebrating all the same, even if the Brussels accords are just a firewall.

It was imperative to prevent the domino effect of Greece’s difficulties, holds the Catholic daily. The general sense of responsibility portrayed at the summit facilitated a necessary compromise although it turned out to be “lame and limping”.

La Croix argues that the sophisticated brinkmanship by the 17 has neither resolved the essential question of Europe’s fragility, nor the propensity to service negative growth with debts and budget deficits.

L'Humanité argues that for the umpteenth time at the end of a “tragicomedy”, European leaders, under the leadership of Sarkozy and Merkel, are trying to “fool” people that they did save Europe from bankruptcy.

The Communist Party daily claims that their actual goal was rescuing the financial markets, the same speculators who ruined Greece, pushed its people into misery, as those of Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy awaited a similar fate.

L’Humanité warns that a new “superausterity plan” awaits the French people. Everyone, it argues, can see that the crisis is getting worse by the day, as Europe hosts “summit after summit”.

Sarkozy, according to the paper, has once again given in to Merkel. He wants French people to “weep” over the fate of the banks which continue to get rich by speculating on debts.

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