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French press review 24 June 2013

Brazil is the main story on several of this morning's French front pages . . .


Left-leaning Libération's main headline is the single Portuguese word for "revolution," followed by a question-mark. The paper says this is a movement against the endemic corruption of the political élite, and that the scope and support of the revolt have damaged the current left-wing government. Conservative parties are now trying to turn the popular discontent to their own political advantage.

Right wing Le Figaro says that the government is powerless in the face of a growing popular challenge. Three-quarters of all Brazillians, and there are nearly 200 million of them, say they support the protests. There's a call for a general strike later this week, on Thursday.

The high price and poor quality of public transport, the poor quality of politicians, and the high price of corruption are, in that declining order, the main bones of contention.

Catholic La Croix points out that, for the moment at least, "revolution" is the wrong word to use, since the protest have not been organised with a view to overturning the existing order, but simply to improve living conditions and the way in which Brazillan democracy functions.

How long that continues to be the case will, of course, depend on how the movement develops, especially as the current government's political opponents become increasingly involved.

Just to put the whole thing into some sort of perspective, Brazil will spend a total of 11 billion euros to host the next football World Cup, this in a country where public services are not always up to scratch. While 67% of Brazillians say they are happy that their nation will host the 2014 competition, others stress the need for a more serious investment of available funds in the future of the national economy.

Le Monde says that Nicolas Sarkozy could be planning a political comeback,

with a view to running for the presidency in 2017.

A spokesman, asked if the various legal troubles facing the former president might constitute a stumbling block on the road back to the top job, replied, perhaps unwisely, by invoking the Berlusconi effect in Italy. According to said spokesman, the transalpine judges turned the old geezer into a victim and extended Berlusconi's political sell-by date by at least a decade.

Many political analysts see the return of Sarkozy as a reaction to the ever-growing popularity of the far right National Front. Others suggest Sarkozy's last administration's policies were xenophobic and that they led to the huge electoral boost for the National Front.

Then there's Angela "Mutti" Merkel, the German chancellor. She's on the front page of business paper Les Echos, mainly because she has an election to win later this year.

She's never been more popular, but she's leaving nothing to chance, launching this very day a 29 billion euro spending programme to boost family allowance, improve pensions for mothers who took time off to have kids, introduce a minimum wage and limit rent increases. She's also expected to launch 25 billion euros worth of infrastructure projects.

How that sort of spending spree is going to be viewed by some of the neighbours, shackled by Mutti's demands for austerity, remains to be seen.

Les Echos also looks back at last week's social conference here in France and finds that nothing substantial emerged from two days of earnest talk. The bosses, the unions and the government remain as divided as ever on such key questions as boosting employment and reducing the social security deficit.






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