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French weekly magazines review 6 July 2014

French press is outraged by Nicolas Sarkozy’s scathing attack on judiciary probing scandals dogging his political return.


The national weeklies express disgust at the violent tone adopted by the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a televised interview, when he protested his15-hour detention by police and judges investigating his alleged violation of legal secrecy and influence peddling in the Bettencourt affair.

Sarkozy's UMP party is said to have accepted illicit payments from the L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 campaign .Sarkozy is suspected of seeking inside information about the case from a magistrate after promising to secure him a lucrative job in Monaco.

Dossier - The Bettencourt scandal

Among others, the ex-President is also facing criminal investigation in the so-called Bygmalion affair. This is in the wake of a televised confession by an official of the PR-events company that more than 10 million euros spent in support of Sarkozy's 2012 campaign had been fraudulently passed off as party expenses.

The former conservative leader who is implicated in a raft of graft scandals decried what he called a politically -motivated vendetta hatched by the Socialist government to prevent his return to politics.

His scathing attack against the judiciary sparked a wave of telling cover page captions. “Sarkozy and the game of seven scandals”, headlines Le Point, going on to list the affairs in which he is facing investigation.

No surprise then that the weekly L’Express spells doom for the ex-conservative leader as he lies in a quagmire of scandals. According to the journal, the former French President who would have preferred to have the media buzzing about his planned return is now obliged to wage two battles: first on a judicial battle and then on the political front.

For Marianne, Sarkozy is in a ploy to prevent a shipwreck. It points out that this is the very first time that a former French head of state has been taken into formal police custody. The left-leaning publication wonders if the self-proclaimed saviour of the opposition UMP party isn’t about to become a millstone around the movement’s neck.

Le Nouvel Observateur reports on a mini-crisis for members of the Troika who are charged with running the affairs of the UMP party following the resignation of the party’s Chief Jean-Francois Copé over the so-called Bygmalion bills falsification scandal.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

It involves the heavy fine of 363,000 euros slapped by the Constitutional Court on ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy for exceeding authorized spending limits during his 2012 re-election campaign. According to the magazine, ex-premier François Fillon wanted Sarkozy to pay from his pockets, opposing a proposal by fellow Troika member Jean Pierre Raffarin to include it on the party’s operational costs.

The matter was finally resolved when the elderly member of the trio, Bordeaux Mayor Alain Juppé backed Raffarin’s proposal to get the party to pay the penalty, just as it did when Jacques Chirac was fined in the ghost jobs scandal during his tenure as Mayor of Paris.

President François Hollande’s ex-partner and now environment minister Ségolène Royal is also the topic of a hard-hitting dossier published by L’Express this week titled “L’emmerdeuse” or royal pain in the ass. The spotlight shows excerpts from the new book Quelle Histoire by French journalist Françoise Degois who was a special adviser to Madame Royal when she ran for President as the Socialist party’s flag bearer in 2007.

Dugois’ book is rich with anecdotes about her difficult character and her tendency to take advantage of being the mother of President Hollande’s children. The journal says Segolène is a minister like no other, who fixes the rules herself and reports to the President and no one else.

Le Nouvel Observateur says it has found the book for summer that will spare you the usual tragedy holiday reading projects. It’s written by American university don, Jonathan Crary and entitled 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep.

According to the left-leaning magazine, Crary considers sleep as a standing affront to capitalism. He claims that when hungry digital companies measure success in "eyeballs", sleep becomes the last remaining zone of dissidence, of anti-productivity and even of solidarity. When I close my laptop, Jonathan Crary writes, it goes to sleep. He argues that while this is a curiously domestic metaphor it also implies that sleep in humans and other animals is just a kind of low-power standby mode. Fascinating reading indeed for when you hit the road this summer.

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