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French press review 25 October 2014

Today’s big story is the release of France’s latest unemployment figures which have hit a new record in September. Official statistics published Friday show that 3.43 million people claimed unemployment benefits over the past month.

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Le Figaro reports the dramatic leap of 19,200 more people who joined the unemployment line this month alone. And the right-wing newspaper underlines the fact that France’s worst jobless figures were registered midway through President François Hollande’s troubled mandate.

Le Figaro says it is worth noting that since Hollande’s election in May 2012, unemployment has swelled by more than half a million.

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In an interview with Le Parisien, Labour Minister François Rebsamen admitted that the government is failing, adding that he didn’t expect any facelift before mid-2015, which the paper describes as an alarming confession. While the popular newspaper praises Monsieur Rebsamen for his honesty it believes it is a grave error for politicians to talk too much.

Despite the parlous state of the French economy, some papers comment about the nerve-wracking dispute President Hollande is locked in with Brussels over the French budget deficit. The short-fall between revenue and spending is projected to hit 4.3 percent of annual economic output, far above the EU's 3.0-percent ceiling.

And Le Figaro says Brussels has ordered France to explain why it decided to deviate from the budgetary targets set by the Council regarding both the general government deficit and the adjustment in the structural balance in 2015 and how it plans to ensure full compliance with its budgetary policy obligations under the Stability and Growth Pact. According to the right-wing daily, the letter addressed to Finance minister Michel Sapin is the last warning before it takes the humiliating decision to formally reject it.

Le Monde also posts a comment about the “war of nerves" pitting Brussels against Paris. It describes the letter as a full-fledged query. For the paper, while President Hollande has ruled out any additional spending cuts, beyond the 21 billion effort set by his government, Brussels is determined to issue a negative.

As Ukraine votes on Sunday to elect a new parliament, Libération says a sweep by President Petro Porochenko’s pro-European bloc would give Kiev the legitimacy it seeks in its standoff with Russia. Interestingly the left leaning newspaper, argues that while Moscow stands firmly behind the eastern-based separatists, the success of the vote could lead to a relaxation of biting European sanctions against Russia.

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And talking about sanctions, Libération says Vladmir Putin can rely on his solid networks in France to defend his interests. It is the “tsar system” that is in place, says the left leaning newspaper. It substantiates its findings by naming seven prominent French families which are “in the sleeves of the Kremlin”. They include Front National Marine Le Pen described as a great admirer of the Russian leader’s patriotism, and a spirited defender of the values of European civilization especially its Christian legacy.

Libé’s so-called “battalion of naives” includes billionaire industrialist and senator Serge Dassault and French controversial actor Gérard Depardieu who fled over-taxed France to settle in Russia.

And everyone is relishing about tonight’s El Classico between Spanish football giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. The showdown expected to be watched by 400 million fans around the world is like no other in the global game, writes the sports daily L’Equipe. Even the conservative Le Figaro is rubbing its hands to watch the return of Uruguayan cannibal Luis Soares for Barcelona, with the world’s best players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi gunning for Telmo Zarranandia Montoya’s 335 goal-scoring record set in 1955.

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