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French weekly magazines review 27 November 2016


One man dominates this week's magazine covers. His nickname is "Droopy" and he has a very good chance of becoming the next French president. But who is the real François Fillon?


François Fillon is going to beat Alain Juppé!

Before a polling station opens, with not a single vote cast, the nation's magazine editors have unanimously decided the outcome of today's right-wing primary face off.

We give you an exclusive sneak preview of their predictions!

The men who failed to spot Brexit, who confidently named Hillary Clinton for the White House, and worried about second round support for the now obsolete Nicholas Sarkozy, unhesitatingly name Fillon as today's winner and the probable next president of France. Maybe Alain Juppé has a slim chance afterall?

If the result is agreed, the distinctive qualities of the man himself leave plenty of scope for debate.

Reactionary? Me? I'm a Catholic!

In its portrait of "The True Fillon", Le Nouvel Observateur depicts a deep-dyed reactionary, a liberal economist, and, horror of horrors, a friend of Vladimir Putin. Putain!

The magazine depicts a shy man, inclined to secrecy, who hates the media limelight and dislikes the political obligation to communicate.

Yet, it is television that has brought him to the status of favourite from rank outsider in less than four weeks. He has shown himself to be calm, sure, clear and conscientious, with just the right touch of nationalism and polite homophobia to seduce the traditional right-wing voter.

With a little help from his friends, bless them!

He has profitted from the organisational skills of the Catholic right, earned in the battle against gay marriage. He intends to reduce the tax bill for business and increase government borrowing. Some people will have to work a 48-hour week under the new president.

His admiration for Vladimir Putin appears, for Le Nouvel Observateur, to be based on the conviction that western Christianity is under attack and that the Russian leader and the Syrian dictator, Bachar al-Assad, are the only bulwarks against a Sunnite regional takeover and ever-increasing terrorism.

L'Express is kinder to Fillon, even if he remains timid, indecisive and morally more upright than many French voters can stomach.

The Incredible Monsieur Fillon

Le Point describes him as "The Incredible Monsieur Fillon," but explains his extraordinary progress in the right-wing primary as the logical result of most voters's desire to eliminate Sarkozy and send Juppé into retirement. But Fillon has to be credited with the intelligence to have seen his chance, and the capacity to turn his advantage into votes.

Fillon's form of conservatism is modern, based on the principle that you have to change everything to ensure that everything stays the same. That's simply a paradoxical way of saying that modern change is rapid in every crucial domain, and those who want to maintain the status quo have got to be even more audacious and quicker.

Fillon can clearly manage the fancy footwork. Whether he can handle the trench warfare remains to be seen.

Electors undermine the work of the opinion pollsters

Weekly satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné has harsh words for the French electorate which has, once again, sabotaged the work of the opinion pollsters.

Practically nobody predicted the end of Sarkozy, nor the relegation of Juppé to a distant second place. By confidently predicting a close finish involving Sarko, Juppé and Fillon, the polling agencies showed that they were dependably wrong.

Le Canard blames the voters for betraying the men and women who manage to make a living by providing results that bear no resemblance to reality.

It may be time to abolish democracy

So, a little more seriously, does the weekly magazine Marianne. Against the polls, the experts and the media, reads the Marianne cover, "The People Upset Everything"!

The analysis of the most recent in a series of unforeseen political results is put down to the impact of new forms of social networking, the fear of seeing social status eroded, and a general distrust of institutions.

As Betolt Brecht once pertinently pointed out, when the people vote against the government, it is time to dissolve the people. They have been warned.

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