French weekly magazines review

The Director General of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was very much under the glare of the French weeklies, well before his arrest in New York on Saturday for alleged sexual assault on a hotel maid.


And what a terrible week, it has been for the potential Socialist Party presidential candidate. It started off with paparazzi catching Strauss-Kahn and his wife alighting from a luxury Porsche car during a recent trip to Paris, then blossomed into disturbing revelations. L’Express runs a 10-page dossier about his ostentatious lifestyle, his fascination for money, luxury homes and ties with the “bling bling” Parisian jet set .

That’s not the best of profiles for someone seeking to lead socialists to an election comments L’Express. The magazine says that money in the first place is never welcome in an election campaign here in France and wonders how a man of such experience could have ignored this.

Le Nouvel Observateur states that past Socialist leaders had always been wary of luxury cars.The left-leaning weekly recalls an incident during François Mitterrand’s presidential campaign in 1981 when he rebuked his communications strategist Jacques Séguéla for riding a Rolls-Royce.

“Let’s walk” said Mitterrand who said he didn’t want to be crucified by the papers. The magazine says Lionel Jospin, who led a co-habitation government under president Chirac in 1995, owned a convertible Renault 19. “What an austere protestant” quipped Strauss-Kahn, as he found out about the socialist leader’s humble bone-shaker. The incident is mentioned in the just published Strauss-Kahn biography by Michel Taubmann.

Le Nouvel Observateur ‘s latest issue is all about the rich, the powerful and the privileged
The magazine carried out an investigation on what it calls the 'new French oligarchs'. According to the journal, republican elites who were supposed to serve the state converted to liberalism in the 1990s and started dismantling the state making personal gain out of the process.

It claims that the American business school spirit has landed as a tsunami in France’s leading schools. The journal interviewed respected sociologists Michel and Monique Pinçon-Charlot who published a best-seller on the functioning of the French bourgeoisie.

The couple says President Nicolas Sarkozy’s agenda to break with the past has been nothing more than collusion between power and money assumed with cynicism. The magazine also runs excerpts from 'One Billion Secrets', a new book about the scandals of the so-called upper France by Marie France Etchegoin..

Le Nouvel Observateur also sampled the opinion of ex-solidarity minister Martin Hirsch about the tense debate on welfare assistance described by social liberals in the ruling party, as a “cancer”. Hirsch insists that more and more families are on the edge and warns that it will be a mistake to force welfare beneficiaries to do community work in compensation for receiving the unemployment allowances. The magazine says the government’s policy to slash public spending has further impoverished more than 3,5 million families in the country

This week’s Marianne again hits hard on the excesses of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The magazine drew excerpts from Jean François Kahn’s latest publication 'Petit César' an inventory of Sarkozy’s political errors and personal gaffes since he came to power four years ago. Sarkozy is driven by “a passion to conquer and control”, according to Marianne. The journal claims that Sarkozy has made imperialism not a doctrine or an ambition but a way of life and it wonders how the French people came to live with that.

Le Point is all about Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader, who is grabbing voters from left and right and transforming the French political map.

The right-leaning weekly carried out an investigation and the findings are that Marine is recruiting heavily,  not just from the poor category of social and blue-collar workers, but also drawing support from the better-off middle class. Le Point reports that Madame Le Pen has overtaken president Sarkozy as the right’s favoured leader, scoring 29 per cent against 20 per cent for Sarkozy, in the latest Sofres tracking poll

“She is no longer the devil's daughter“, says a prominent French lawyer. Another expert argues that Marine’s stance on security and immigration is the same as that of the ruling UMP party, and that makes life easier for people trooping to the National Front.



Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Keep up to date with international news by downloading the RFI app