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French weekly magazines review

The magazines are offering clarification on why last week’s first round presidential vote produced no clear winner. The Socialist flag bearer François Hollande who had been expected to take an unassailable lead in the race, scored just 28.63 per cent, beating the incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy by a single percentage point.

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While Sarkozy is upbeat about the performance Marianne is not, which has a photograph of a dejected Sarkozy sitting in a dark room, captioned “It’s the End”. The left-leaning weekly underlines it is unprecedented in the history of the 5th Republic, that an outgoing President has failed to win a first round presidential vote.

Marianne says, his removal from the Elysée is a matter simply logic. It argues that French citizens are bent on sanctioning his style and policies which ignored the middle and working classes. According to Marianne, Sarkozy’s defeat will be good for the Republic and good for democracy.

The weekly also regrets that the “griots of Sarkozysm” failed to address growing public hostility against the president’s economic and social policies.

On the front page of Le Nouvel Observateur is a retouched photograph depicting Sarkozy as a man drowning in the high seas. The caption is “I can feel the wave”. The phrase is taken from a recent campaign speech Sarkozy made here in Paris. The left-leaning weekly says the National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who came third with 18 per cent, is plotting Sarkozy’s defeat.

Le Nouvel Observateur, states that her plan is to cause the implosion of the center-right coalition in power. That would clear the way for her party to become leader of the opposition in parliament.

For the satirical weekly, Le Canard Enchaîné, that strategy partly explains why Sarkozy will do anything, that’s likely to bring back swing voters who trooped to the National Front in the first round vote.

Le Figaro argues in an editorial that Sarkozy can still win on 6 May. It says he is right to believe that the second round will be determined not by Centrist voters but by Marine Le Pen’s six million followers.

Le Figaro does not eye the Centrist leader, François Bayrou as a safe bet for Sarkozy. Bayrou who has held the middle ground of French politics for four presidential elections scored a disappointing 9 percent in the first round vote. Le Figaro believes he is facing a dilemma, how to deal with the heterogeneity of his party and their voters and still carry out his long-cherished dream of championing the “re-composition” of the centrist movement in France.

Marianne examines the prospects of Hollande’s election and notes that everybody has got it all wrong about his presidential stature. According to the journal, some said he lacked clout and was too weak to lead and for 30 years the media, his rivals and challengers all underestimated him. Despite his modest appearance, Marianne holds that Hollande has always nursed the ambition to rule the country some day – but not for selfish ambitions.

This week’s L’Express is all about the Hollande/Sarkozy presidential debate on 2 May. L’Express brands the duel as Hollande’s last hurdle to power and Sarkozy’s last chance to salvage his presidency. The journal profiles the two candidates and their campaign strategists, as they get ready for battle.

According to L’Express, the debate will be a key moment in the race for the Elysée, not necessarily decisive but absolutely spectacular, with Hollande consolidating his gains from the polls and Sarkozy swinging and looking for a knockout punch.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Le Point has an inventory of all what awaits the winner of the race whoever he will be. The right wing weekly looks ahead to the morning of 7 May at the Elysée, when the president gets up to find a raft of problems waiting to be addressed and realize that France is up to its eyeballs in debt.

France needs to borrow 178 billion euros in 2012 for “debt servicing” alone, according to Le Point. The weekly says two thirds of France’s creditors are foreigners, which is why they are extremely nervous, especially at this time when the markets have ruled out any “concessions” in case of debt default.

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