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French weekly magazines review

Text by: William Niba
5 min

Politics and the hard choices facing France’s new Socialist government continue to take pride of place in the magazines.

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As the political parties intensify campaigns for upcoming parliamentary elections, Marianne publishes excerpts of a new high profile book, 6 May 2012 Catastrophe.

It is written by firebrand political commentator Jean François Kahn. He warns about a looming political disaster for the centre-right UMP and speculates that the far-right Front National (FN) is poised to become France’s main opposition party by 2017.

The author blames ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s flirtation with far-right themes for the erosion of his UMP’s republican values. Marianne accuses the UMP of blatant “cowardice” holding that the “undignified and desperate” attempt to siphon FN votes has given rise to levels of populism never witnessed in France.

The journal calls on republicans within the UMP to wake up or face another painful defeat for their party in the  parliamentary elections.

Le Point is inviting President François Hollande to hurry up and read the book.

Kahn predicts that FN leader Marine Le Pen could become a minister of state and the second most important figure in government in five years’ time.

Kahn’s argument, which is upheld by the conservative weekly, is that Hollande scored 44 per cent of overall votes in the presidential first round, as opposed to 47 for the right-wing candidates Sarkozy and Le Pen, hence his conclusion that it was the rejection of Sarkozy that determined the outcome of the election, not an adherence to Hollande’s political manifesto.

With Sarkozy gone, some weeklies are wondering who stands to take over the UMP's leadership.

Parliamentary elections 2012

Le Nouvel Observateur reports that the match pitting former prime minister François Fillon and the party’s current secretary Jean-Francois Copé is turning into all-out war.

The satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchainé pokes its nose into the fracas, explaining that Fillon put up with a lot during the Sarkozy regime and now he is claiming compensation, Copé’s head plus the UMP leadership.

L’Express reports on the battle over a parliamentary seat in the northern French region Pas de Calais between Marine Le Pen and Left Front leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has mounted  a spectacular bid to wreck the political career of the FN chief.

Le Point paints a rather grim picture of the French economy as Hollande prepares to implement his electoral programme.

“France is an idler’s paradise, ravaged by the 35-hour work week, and the nostalgia of retirement at 60," contends the weekly in a hard-hitting article. According to the right-wing magazine, France is suffering from a chronic absenteeism disease known as “lundite” (Mondayitis) and “vendredite” (Fridayitis).

Le Point, quotes a recent study proving that 54 per cent of public-service workers admit taking most Mondays and Fridays off.

In an interview in this week’s Le Point, former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says there is no sense in France lowering the retirement age to 60 when Germany plans to keep workers on their jobs till 67 by 2030.

Some of this week’s magazines sympathise with France’s new justice minister Christiane Taubira who is the victim of an apparently choreographed smear campaign.

Le Nouvel Observateur says the politician from French Guyana is Hollande’s perfect trump card to perpetrate the legacy of black intellectuals and politicians Aimé Cesaire and Edouard Glissant. The magazine counts her first missteps, blunders and the almost daily criticism by some right-wingers.

L’Express admits that she has become the “punching ball” of the UMP, which considers her as the visible face of Socialist irresponsibility. The journal says the right may live to regret the campaign as Taubira, a proven fighter, could become a much tougher opponent than they ever expected.

Le Nouvel Observateur also takes up the heated debate on the controversial subject of dangerous liaisons between politicians and female journalists.

The trend has gone unabated for years, witnessing high profile relationships involving TV stars such as Christine Ockrent, Anne Sinclair, Beatrice Schönberg and Audrey Pulvar.

Things have taken a new dimension, since journalist Valerie Trierweiler moved to the Elysée presidential palace. News that France’s “first girlfriend” wants to keep her job, while her partner is head of state raises serious questions of conflict of interest. According to Le Nouvel Observateur, Trierweiler’s position is already creating tensions at the celebrity magazine Paris Match.

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