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French press review 08 March 2014

Ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy is a big hit on the front pages of today’s national dailies in the wake of Le Monde’s allegation Friday that he tried to pervert the course of justice on the basis of phone taps ordered by judges investigating his links with Moamer Kadhafi.

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The respected daily Le Monde claims that judges started tapping Sarkozy's phones last year after opening a formal investigation into allegations by the late dictator's sons, his interpreter and the man who allegedly delivered the cash that he accepted millions of euros from Kadhafi to finance his 2007 election campaign.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Judicial sources are quoted as saying that it was thanks to their eavesdropping on Sarkozy’s phone that they learnt he had allegedly attempted to obtain, via a friendly judge, inside information about ongoing - and top secret - proceedings before France’s highest appeals court.

The proceedings had to do with another election-funding scandal in which Sarkozy was embroiled and which could have a profound influence on the outcome of yet another corruption case, the 400-million-euro state payout to former tycoon Bernard Tapie.

“Sarkozy’s phone tapped for over a year,” headlines Le Figaro.

In today’s editorial the right-wing newspaper denounces a witchhunt and a political plot to ensnare Sarkozy and destroy his chances of staging a political comeback.

Libération brands Sarkozy “The Godfather”, saying he tried to corrupt a magistrate of the appeals court.

Libé explains that the judicial tapping of his phone has exposed the murky system he put in place during his time at the Elysée Palace. The latest Sarkozy developments came two days after an unrelated scandal erupted with the revelation that private conversations and meetings held while in office had been secretly recorded by a close aide Patrick Buisson.

Aujourdhui en France brings some perspective to the “astonishing” Sarko phone-tapping saga observing that the former president wasn’t just being eavesdropped on by his political advisor but also by judicial investigators who themselves may have acted outside judicial boundaries.

Women's rights in France - given or taken?

Le Figaro underscores one of the sad realities of rural life in France, the fact that 64 French villages will be without mayors after this month’s local elections.

The right-wing newspaper blames the aberration on the new electoral law, which makes the composition of candidate lists more complicated.

“Long live women!” bellows Aujourd’hui en France as it opens its arms to bearhug our better half celebrating International Women’s Day this 8 March. It is critical of how women are getting on in the nation’s workplaces.

Despite the government’s effort to instal parity at the helm of government, the Parisian paper says women have not crossed the threshold of power. A study published to mark the occasion exposes the large margins in place. Women make up less than 15 per cent of corporate managerial jobs, 27 per cent of lawmakers and just about 35 per cent of senior positions in the civil service

Aujourdh’ui en France also points to a 27 per cent gap between the salaries of men and women as the clearest symptom that France is indeed a hypocritical society.

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