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French press review 13 November 2012

The French papers all focus on François Hollande's highly-trailed press conference scheduled for later on Tuesday.


The French president, François Hollande, is to hold his first press conference later today, six months into the top job.

"The trial period is over" warns left-leaning Libération, suggesting that there'll be no magic formula to enable the president to reverse his record unpopularity level, but that he might be able to give more substance to his long-term aims.

Libé quotes a government minister as saying that all the pieces of the jigsaw are available, it's just that the president has failed to turn them into a coherent picture. That's what this evening's meeting with the press is all about.

Not so fast, warns the Libération editorial. The French people are not interested in jigsaw puzzles, nor in communications exercises, nor in listening to an account of how many election promises have been fulfilled or not, as the case may be. What they want from their president is truth, clarity and action based on social solidarity.

Libé publishes the results of an opinion poll in which French voters were asked to specify the reasons for their discontent with the current government. The top gripe, for 31% of those questioned, is increased taxation.

Paradoxically, when asked what is good about the lads currently running the shop, a majority of those questioned chose the government's commitment to social justice. But how you can make society more just without taxing the haves to help the have-nots is not a question anyone wants to answer.

Incidentally, 44% of right wing sympathisers, asked to choose which aspect of Hollande's presidency they most appreciated, replied "none"!

The poor man is getting it hard from the Communists as well, since the comrades at L'Humanité don't like the policy of austerity and feel that the government is hampering any feeble hope of an economic take-off.

Catholic La Croix feels that the key failings have been, crucially, a failure to engage with sufficient energy in the early months of the presidency. The arm wrestling with Angela Merkel on economic policy hasn't helped either. Nobody likes austerity, despite the fact that we all know it is essential.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

We just want the other guy to pay the bill. The unemployment statistics are disastrous, and the debate with the directors of big business about the best way of making French industry more competitive doesn't seem to be between parties who speak the same language.

Le Figaro asks "Can Hollande make the doubts disappear?" The answer is obviously "no!" but the right wing paper is sufficiently lucid to admit that presidential press conferences rarely, if ever, change the ways of the world.

Le Figaro's editorial is headlined "ills and pills", basically a ringing condemnation of government misdiagnosis followed by inappropriate medication.

We don't need to be reminded that France is in deep do-do, says Le Figaro, we need to be convinced that the president has the right shovel to dig us out. We don't need more words, we need action.

But, laments Le Figaro, the wizard of words may get away with it again. After all, he managed to convince a majority of the French to elect him six months ago. And look at the mess that has got us into!

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