French press review 7 May 2011

Saturday’s French newspapers are dominated by the so-called Porsche affaire involving Socialist presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn. But there's also continuing controversy over the football quotas question and bankers' bonuses. And a message for Alassane Ouattara now he's been sworn in as Côte d'Ivoire's president.

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The IMF chief who is widely tipped to beat Nicholas Sarkozy if he runs in the 2012 presidential elections was photographed riding the luxury car during a private visit to Paris last week.

Strauss-Kahn’s political opponents are trying to make political capital out of that, starting with Le Figaro which published the picture on its cover page.

The caption “Strauss-Kahn, first mistake”. The conservative paper argues that while the car isn’t Strauss-Kahn’s it brings to the fore lingering questions about his lavish lifestyle.

Le Figaro says the image is troubling to the Socialists, wary about the message it could leave on leftist voters.

Strauss-Kahn’s friends are trying to minimise the gaffe, according to the conservative paper, but do admit that they will have to keep a vigilant eye on every picture that goes out.

Libération examines the prospects of Strauss-Kahn’s candidacy for the Socialist Party primaries, with former prime minister, Laurent Fabius.

He has just returned to Paris, from a long meeting with Strauss-Kahn in the United States. Fabius tells the newspaper that he continues to see the IMF chief and Martine Aubry have thebest chance of leading the party to victory come 2012.

Laurent Fabius reiterates that the pair are still as determined as ever not to run against each other, underlining the obligation by all to unite behind the party's manifesto and the candidate who emerges victorious in the primaries.

The crisis about ethnic quotas in French football continues to receive wide coverage in the French papers.

Le Figaro headlines on the story noting that French football manager Laurent Blanc now stands in the eye of the storm.

Blanc’s position has become untenable since he denied attending any meeting during which the issue was discussed. He is due to appear before a commission of inquiry on Monday to explain himself.

Le Figaro reports that his many friends and World Cup team mates are standing behind him and denying that he is a racist.

Le Figaro says that French sports officials see Laurent Blanc as a key player in the campaign to recoup the standing of French football since their disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa.

The sports paper L’Equipe, also takes up the crisis, pointing out that the technical director suspended over his role in the ethnic quota scandal has moved to dissociate Laurent Blanc from the scheme.

François Blaquart told a local broadcaster, the papers says, that he was ashamed of raising the quota issue stating that it was possible Laurent Blanc didn’t even hear him say it.

Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace takes a very pragmatic position on the affaire.

The regional paper claims that the polemics are neither an accident, happenstance nor a gaffe.

“It’s a convulsion,” states the tabloid, “the symptomatic result of a political obsession nourished for months and months on the question of immigration and national identity.”

According to the Alsace paper, “By whipping up the sentiments and fears of the people about the failures of integration and the dangers of excessive French hospitality, the ruling party has ended up creating doubt about the realities of the French society which has been multiracial and multicultural for a long long time.”

Libération raises the growing controversy here in France about the exorbitant bonuses earned by bank executives.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Libé says the fat paychecks are illegal under European law. The paper outlines that remunerations for banks CEOs have been capped since the financial crisis that saw governments dig deep into their treasuries to prevent the bankruptcy of several prominent banks.

Libération faults Nicolas Sarkozy for allowing the trend to continue.

The paper says this is another example of the president’s inability to keep his word, after promising at the time to end autoregulation and excessive remunerations in the banking sector.

Libé predicts that Sarkozy shouldn’t be surprised by the ravaging effect this would have on the morale of struggling citizens.

The left-leaning newspaper questions why the president should not be surprised by the rise of populism in the country when the fuel with which it is nourished is provided in such quantities.

Le Monde welcomes the accession to power of Ivorian president Alassane Ouattarra describing his first decisions encouraging.

The UN-backed leader was sworn into office on Friday after a revised ruling by the same constitutional court that declared ousted Laurent Gbagbo winner of the disputed 2010 presidential election.

Le Monde comments in an editorial that Ouattarra will need all his skills to reconcile a nation battered by civil war and economic strife.

The centrist newspaper notes that Ouattara took the oath of office pledging to set up a truth, reconciliation and dialogue commission, and to hand Laurent Gbagbo and war crimes cases over to the ICC.

Le Monde commends the decision, and notes that it will spare his administration of a tense trial that will revive divisions in the country where 48 per cent of the population voted for the ousted president.

There will be no reconciliation, according to Le Monde, without the delivery of impartial justice, starting with the prosecution of soldiers inside Ouattara’s own camp who committed massacres during the armed campaign that brought him to power.

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