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French press review 8 May 2012

Just three dailies to hand this morning because French journalists and newspaper distributors are, once again, on holiday, this time celebrating the end of the World War II in Europe.


One man who is certainly not on holiday is the French president-elect, François Hollande, already up to his ears in trouble and strife, despite the fact that he won't officially be sworn into the new job until this day next week.

Hollande has got to organise the transition with the man he replaces, Nicolas Sarkozy, and he's also got to announce himself on the international scene. The formation of a government is another pressing obligation, but that, according to a Socialist Party spokesperson, will have to wait until next week.

Also next week, Hollande will chair his first ministerial council meeting, at which he will honour his campaign promise to reduce the presidential salary by 30 per cent.

Honest Frank will be obliged to make ends meet on just 13,000 euros per month, down from the 19,000 which Nicolas Sarkozy decided he was worth when he gave himself a 176 per cent pay rise shortly after his election five years ago. Ministers in Hollande's new government are going to have to survive on salaries one-third smaller than those paid to the members of Sarkozy's cabinet.

Right-wing Le Figaro says there's going to be trouble with Germany. You will know that François Hollande wants to renegotiate certain key passages in the European financial deal, notably on France's obligations to balance the national books sooner rather than later.

German chancellor, Angela Merkel, says there'll be no discussion of French obligations. End of story.

But Frank and the Socialists have a parliamentary election to win next month, and won't want any uppity German telling them that they have to stop spending more money than the state will ever have.

Le Figaro is betting on Merkel to win this particular confrontation, despite the fact that Hollande's refusal to imitate his predecessor in accepting the German economic line may be just what the French economy needs.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The Germans want stable debt situations in the rest of the eurozone to ensure that people will be able to pay for the German exports which keep more than half of the businesses run from Berlin turning over nicely. Danke.

France needs a little more budgetary flexibility to see whether the state can't somehow kick-start a growth spiral. Some analysts say Sarkozy's alignment with Merkel has kept the French economy weak, which is just what the Germans want. Hollande may be onto something worthwhile.

Why else would Merkel be so worried?

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