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French press review 14 November 2011

5 min

The economic crisis hasn't gone away, but it is having to share the front pages with other topics this morning.


Libération devotes its main story to Syria, as international pressure builds against the regime of Bachar al-Assad.

The left-wing daily publishes the remarks of former officers in the Syrian military who have deserted because they could not order the men under their command to fire on un-armed civilians.

An estimated 17,000 Syrian soldiers have deserted since anti-Bashar protests began in January.

Catholic La Croix looks at the world of work, wondering how we might earn our daily bread differently.

The Catholic paper reports that only 17 per cent of the French think that they work too much, and that three-quarters of French workers consider themselves happy in their jobs.

But one employee in every four is worried that he or she might not have a job at all within the next twelve months.

Dominique Strauss Kahn is back on the front page of popular daily Aujourd'hui en France, looking like a sad old man.

Dossier: The Strauss-Kahn affair rocks France, IMF

The paper says the former head of the International Monetary Fund and one-time potential French president continues to be harrassed by legal and sexual scandals on both sides of the Atlantic, has absolutely no political future, few friends and may soon find himself going through the divorce courts.

Anne Sinclair, the woman who stood by her man through recent troubles, could decide that she needs to protect her personal fortune from the fall-out of any legal decisions against her husband.

Right-wing Le Figaro is happy to report nastiness and in-fighting in Socialist ranks.

At the weekend, the leader of the Leftist League, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, characterised Socialist presidential candidate, François Hollande, as a "pedal-boat captain in an ocean storm".

The lefter-than-Left leader went on to say that Sarkozy and Hollande were basically cut from the same political cloth, and that both are out-dated.

Mélenchon says Hollande's only talent is for dressing up his obstinate social-liberal polices in clever phrases and little jokes.

Rank and file Socialists have been shocked by the attack, suggesting that having-a-go at the officially and democratically chosen party candidate is serving the interests of the right-wing UMP and the extreme right National Front.

Of course, Hollande has other problems than those outside him on the Left. He's also embroiled with potential allies of the various Green parties because he has so far refused to trade a promise to wind down the French nuclear industry in exchange for the support of the environmentalists.

And the Right don't like him one litte bit either. According to Le Figaro, current presidential advisors call Hollande "the snake", saying he is spineless.

Obviously, said presidential advisors are more into colour than biology, since snakes are nothing but spines with scales on the outside.

But who ever heard of a presidential advisor letting facts get in the way of a good political put-down?

All papers welcome Mario Monti, the man who has been chosen to succeed Silvio Berlusconi as Italian Prime Minister.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

He's a hard-line economist, a former European commissioner, disliked by the working class right who call him "the Taxman", and by the Left who fear his cost-cutting measures may turn Monti into an axeman.

He has promised nothing but hard times if Italy wants to reclaim a respected place on the global economic stage. The stock markets are going to love him.

Communist L'Humanité is not happy. They say the political futures of both Greece and Italy have been taken out of the hands of the people and given to technocrats whose agendas are driven by the European Union and the financial markets.

But it's not all bad news. According to business daily Les Echos, Brussels is fighting back.

Worried that the financial ratings agencies have now reached the status of global powers, the European Commission is due to launch laws designed to put manners on the likes of Moody's and Standard & Poor's.

The agencies are likely to lose, at least temporarily, the right to rate the soverign debt of national economies.

And investors will be entitled to sue the agencies for damages if they lose money as a result of following agency advice.

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