French press review 30 May 2012

French state bosses take a pay cut. Will the rest of the French people face cutbacks, as well? And a start TV newsreader is expected to bow out.


The front page of Libération says the bosses of French public companies are going to have to tighten their Gucci belts, in line with a presidential campaign promise made by President François Hollande, the head honchos at the big state companies are going to take a salary cut.

The man who runs the national electricity producer, for example, is going to see his take home pay reduced by nearly 70 per cent. He'll still probably manage to make ends meet on his slimmed down 497,000 euros but that's quite a fall from last year's million and a half euros.

Hollande wants the income gap between the bosses and their least well paid employees to be no greater than a factor of 20. The electricity boss currently earns 64 times more than the 25,000 euros paid to those at the bottom of his company's pay scale.

A wise but unscrupulous boss might be inclined to give his lowly minions a huge wage increase in order to protect his own income.

The front page of right-wing Le Figaro warns that it's not just the bosses who are due for a short back and sides. We're all due to be fleeced by the new Socialist president, says Le Figaro, once next month's parliamentary elections are safely out of the way.

They base this revelation of the new president's honest statement last night on national TV that his job now was a matter of tailoring pre-election promises to the stark realities of a shrinking budget.

Le Figaro's front page editorial says yesterday's meetings between the prime minister and the social partners - the trade union chiefs and the bosses' organisations - were all part of the same mug's game which saw François Hollande steal the presidency from Nicolas Sarkozy.

The harsh fact, says Le Figaro, is that economic reality won't yield to political wishful thinking.

The right-wing paper ends by wondering if the social dialogue after next month's elections will be as calm and friendly as this week's publicity stunt. It's a fair question.

Speaking of next month's elections, Le Monde publishes the first opinion poll, suggesting that, if the elections were next Sunday, the combined forces of the left would have a narrow advantage over the right in the new parliament.

The same poll indicates that the level of participation could be quite low with as many as 42 per cent of voters not bothering to get involved.

That, if it's confirmed, says Le Monde, would reduce the overall impact of the far-right Front National, which is hoping to create a record number of second round three-way battles, where its candidate gets the 12.5 per cent of votes necessary to stand in the second round.

A reduced electorate will make that cut-off point more difficult to reach for the non-mainstream parties.

With two front pages proclaiming "Laurence Ferrari to quit TF1", I was reminded of GK Chesterton's remark to the effect that journalism largely consisits of saying "Lord Jones Dead" to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive in the first place.

Laurence Ferrari has presented the main evening news for the past four years on the main commercial television channel, TF1. She won't be doing that any more.

Apart from difficult professional relationships with the channel's director of news, Catherine Nayi, Ferrari's programmes lost out badly to the rival public channel during the presidential election.

It is significant that François Hollande chose the rival public chanel for his first interview as president last night.

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