French press review 14 October 2011

Friday’s French papers are dominated by the Socialist Party primaries as the two front-runners - François Hollande and Martine Aubry - hold their last campaign rallies.


After squaring-off in a tense debate on Wednesday, L'Humanité says clarity is a key pre-requisite of democracy.

The communist party daily holds that despite the hardening posture adopted by the candidates and their frantic attempt to address the expectations of voters, their proposals fall far short of effecting the necessary change that will ensure the left will not disappoint the nation when it comes to power.

What the primaries have revealed, says L’Humanité, is the urgent need for a militant leftist front fully mobilized for blue-collared workers, in order to turn the page of President Sarkozy’s rule and ensure the success of the leftist administration.

The regional newspapers have varying reactions to the socialist process. Le Courrier Picard urges Arnaud Montebourg who came third in the race with 17 per cent not to betray the trust of voters. The paper notes that the much-courted maverick has not endorsed any of the two candidates because he is facing a dilemma.

If he picks Hollande over Aubry, he would squander the political capital he amassed during the campaign. Hollande, it says, is backed by Manuel Valls who Montebourg described as the “weak left” while Martine Aubry is the politician he recently accused of allowing the “clanish” practices of Marseille party chief Guerini to thrive.

La République du Centre says it is high time the socialists call-off the primaries as the final battle before it turns into a dirty fight. The paper doubts that the socialist who adhered massively to the process, will be happy to see a “battered” candidate emerge from the process to face Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012.

“Smile in front, dagger behind”, quips Midi Libre. The paper argues that if François Hollande emerges as winner of the primaries, he could become the punching ball of the good Monsieur Copé, the ruling party chief, who will waste no minute in lambasting the “spineless big man” from the Corrèze region.

La Voix du Nord raises another dilemma that faces the socialist candidate. He or she will have little airtime to sell the socialist political manifesto, after the party squandered long hours on the primaries, arguably to the pleasure of the ruling UMP party candidate Nicolas Sarkozy.

Dossier: The Strauss-Kahn affair rocks France, IMF

L’Eclair des Pyrénées says don’t blame the socialists for their spectacular “hold up” of news during the past three weeks. It is the media, it says, which rushed to grant them unlimited access to their studios, after finding out that millions of radio and television audiences were galvanized by the process.

The regional newspapers react to the ruling of a Paris court throwing out the charges of alleged sexual assault filed against Dominique Strauss-Kahn by French journalist Tristane Banon. L'Alsace says it is an irony of sorts that the “horizons are clearing up” for DSK just hours before the socialists pick their presidential candidate.

The paper believes the former favourite to clinch the party nomination must be reeling in anguish. It notes that despite his acquittal, Strauss-Kahn will remain “banished” from the electoral process which he would have dominated had he been able to overcome the “instincts” that ran him into trouble.

L'Est Républicain argues that the cock-fight pitting Aubry against Hollande only brought to the fore why Strauss Kahn was such an important figure for the party.

According to the newspaper, he would have sailed through the primaries dominating the debate over Europe’s destiny, social security reform, the dangers of the debt burden, crushing in the process, the protectionist preaching of Arnaud Montebourg. It’s crazy how time flies.

Le Progrès de Lyon notes with some sarcasm that DSK has been “cleared” both in New York and Paris. In New York, of inappropriate conduct against a hotel maid and in Paris, of sexual assault against his daughter’s friend, a case which a French judge ruled is too old to prosecute.

The question now, according to the regional newspaper, is what to do with this “party boss” who turns interviews into “traps”, this financial virtuoso, this exceptionally gifted crisis manager, this perfect expert in “whitewashing”.

La République des Pyrénées sympathises with Tristane Banon, the young, fragile women ridiculed for placing herself under the glare of the cameras, after keeping quiet about the alleged sexual assault for many years.

She explains in a new book Confessed Masculine Errors how she turned down fat cheques to “denounce” Dominique Strauss-Kahn on American television. As Banon’s detractors hammer her for being driven by money, her publisher says she hasn’t received a dime for the book and has actually gone for six months without a salary.

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