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French weekly magazine review 21 February 2016


French President François Hollande's cabinet reshuffle, the 2017 presidential elections and the Mexican drug baron El Chapo all feature in this week's editions. 


The rumblings of the 2017 presidential election feature in both the left and the right-wing press this week.

Satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné sets carries a front-page cartoon showing Hollande reacting to last week’s gravitational wave discovery. 

“It’s as if a hole in the budget collides with a hole in social security and this triggers the gravitational waves in 2017,” he explains to two members of his cabinet..

On its inside pages Le Canard looks at how the gravitational pull of 2017 is affecting the far-right Front National.

According to Le Canard, Marine le Pen delivered a blow to her niece, Marion Maréchal Le Pen, last week. The party leader is said to be jealous that her niece is representing the party on a series of international engagements.

She’s also said to be "up in arms" over an article written by a friend of her niece that questions her supposedly “left-wing” line. Le Canard quotes an anonymous Marion supporter, saying that no-one inside the Front National will stand up to Marine le Pen until "after her failure" in the 2017 elections. Then the knives will comes out.

"The long knives?" Le Canard asks, conjuring up historical memories of the purge of the Nazi Party ordered by Hitler in 1934.

This theme of internal party bickering continues in analyses of Hollande’s decision to sack culture minister Fleur Pellerin and replace her with Audrey Azoulay.

The conclusion seems to be that Azoulay knows more of the right people, including the president’s girlfriend, actress Julie Gayet. The right-wing magazine L’Express calls Azoulay the “queen of casting” – a woman who’s highly connected in the world of French cinema. And there’s “nothing like a sparkling array of actors” to form a support group for Hollande in the run-up to 2017.

This wasn’t lost on former transport minister Frédéric Cuvillier, who tweeted, “Best wishes to Fleur Pellerin, so committed and sincere, but not close enough to the closest of the president’s circle.”

There’s more on the French electoral race in left-wingMarianne.

The magazine’s front page claims that the "Left is more divided than ever" and asks, “Why so much hate?”

According to Marianne French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron are engaged in “total war”.

“The two men know that they are now on the same starting line in the final sprint for the end of the Hollande era’,” the editorial claims.

Nicolas Sarkozy fills editorial pages across this weekend’s magazines.

The former French president and leader of the Republicans party is under investigation for allegedly “illegally financing” his presidential campaign in 2012. Sarkozy had been riding a wave following the publication of his memoir La France pour la vie (France for Life) and now he’s trying to pull himself out of a black hole regarding stories surrounding his murky finances.

The centre-left magazineL’Obs takes a detailed look at the expenses which weren’t registered in Sarkozy’s presidential campaign accounts. The total adds up to some 50 million euros – double the amount permitted by French law.

But who's to blame?

Sarkozy says he had nothing to do with it. No-one inside the party, which was called the UMP at the time, admits to knowing anything about it, either. Nor does anyone on Sarkozy’s presidential team.

L’Obs concludes its article with the words of Marc Leblanc, the UMP’s accountant during the 2012 campaign, who swears he had “nothing to do with it”.

“If it wasn’t tragic, it would be funny,” Leblanc says. “But who will believe that?”

In right-wing Le Point there’s more of a focus on world affairs.

It gives over six pages to a fascinating report on the Mexican drug baron El Chapo, who managed to escape from prison via a tunnel built by his partners in crime on the outside.

It’s like the film Shawshank Redemption all over again. At 8.52pm on 11 July 2015 the 61-year-old drug oligarch got up from his prison bed, went over to his cell’s shower area, slid through an opening, down a ladder and jumped onto an awaiting cart attached to a Honda. Fifteen minutes later he surfaced a free man inside a safe house.

But his freedom was short-lived.

El Chapo was recaptured during a police raid on his hiding place on 8 January this year. It was his love of cinema that caught him out. Mexican actress Kate de Castillo arranged a meeting between El Chapo and US movie star Sean Penn, with a view to making a film about the gangster’s life.

Four days after this meeting, the police finally managed to track El Chapo down and the brutal mobster was rearrested. This is a man who let loose wild, caged animals on his enemies, decapitated them or left them to die in a bath filled with acid. Maybe the movie rights are still being optioned?

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