French press review 6 May 2011

Friday’s French newspapers are dominated by next year’s French presidential elections and the crisis rocking the French Football Federation.



Today is exactly one year away from the election of France’s next  president on 6 May 2012.

Le Figaro headlines on the offensive launched by Prime Minister François Fillon on Thursday,  to defend president Nicholas Sarkozy’s record as he marks his fourth year in office.

Fillon told ruling party supporters in Paris that while Sarkozy’s reign has been beset by a few failures, it has been mainly a period of great achievements, the presidents implementing key planks of his political manifesto.

The conservative newspaper underlines that François Fillon not only defended the president’s record but took a swipe at the economic project of the Socialist Party.

According to Le Courrier Picard, the casting for the Elysée is in place and the ultra- Sarkozy electoral machine has gone to work, complete with a campaign headquarters, and the return of Sarkozy’s long-time pal Brice Hortefeux in charge.

The ruling party’s offensive comes as the latest TNS-Sofres tracking poll reports that only one out of six French voters approve the president’s record.

L’ Humanité uses the most popular French swear word, putain, to lament the fact that the people of France will have to be subjected to Sarkozy’s politics for another year. The Communist Party daily explains that Sarkozy’s record speaks for itself and is too well known to be ignored by French voters come 2012.

The other big story covering the front pages is the storm blowing through France’s football governing body.

The sport daily l’Equipe says the federation is deeply split, citing contrasting and passionate reactions to the controversial scheme introducing quotas in football development programmes.

Libération pops the question: "Is French football racist ?”

The paper states that the very idea of introducing ethnic-based quotas as the basis for selecting the best young players is a major error.

Libé argues that statements about the alleged physical qualities of blacks are also stupid and do justify the growing controversy. The left-leaning tabloid states the issue has taken a serious dimension because it hits France where it is most vulnerable, its failed integration policy which has facilitated the social segregation of millions of citizens of immigrant origin.

Libération also publishes a circular letter signed by coaches in the neighbourhoods denouncing the denigration of blacks and Arabs within the French Football Federation.

On its part, Aujourd’hui en France laments the end of the so-called glorious era of the black-white-Arab mythical football squad, that helped France win the 1998 Football World Cup. The popular Parisian tabloid recalls that all of France stood behind the team which reflected the fraternal and multiracial values of the nation in the aftermaths of the triumph.

Le Monde examines differences within the EU over the proposal to suspend the Schengen free movement accords. The respected centrist paper claims that the measure sought by France hasn’t gone down well within the union, some members voicing reservations about the relevance of such a move

La Croix takes to the government to task for its recent decision to open shopping malls on Sunday. The Catholic daily notes that people aren’t buying the offer, two years after Sarkozy introduced the reform to boost the tourism industry. La Croix hails the strong resistance put up by Christians, the unions, the cities of Paris and Lyon and even by key lobbies within the ruling majority. The newspaper says the reform has instead become an issue for unnecessary political bickering and labour disputes.

And France Soir revisits the drama of the “family killer” in Nantes, a shock letter written by Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès, in which he told relatives and friends he and his family were leaving for a long journey.


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