French weekly magazines review

Was Holland's social summit successful in bringing back a culture of dialogue? How will the new government quell worries about upcoming austertity measures that promise to be harsh? What it's in store for French tax payers? And how far will France's wealthy go to avoid Hollande's new fiscal measures? 


French President François Hollande is on the cover page of two prominent magazines this week, L’Express and Marianne, following his two-day national dialogue that put together the unions and business.

The satirical weekly, Le Canard Enchaîné, says Hollande’s insistence to open the grand social conference himself is a move to calm the flaring tempers of stakeholders as he unveils what is expected to be a “harsh” austerity program to service France’s budget deficit and revamp the dimsal economy.

It goes on to say the “weather report” contains bad news for tax payers, revealing that the government is working on a plan to raise the general social contribution CSG tax by between two and four points.

According to Le Canard, the government is desperate to raise seven billion euros this summer to fill a hole in the budget left by the outgoing Centre-Right government of. The weekly says Hollande’s method to win bi-partisan support for his austerity program is “embrace before strangling”.

Le Point describes Hollande’s chairing of the social dialogue as evidence of a new brand of the “hyper-active presidency” compared to his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.  According to the magazine, Hollande is “back-tracking on a major plank of his electoral manifesto” by taking back one of the responsibilities of his prime minister.

Parliamentary elections 2012

L’Express investigates the life trend of the Socialist-led administration who now have access to the use of executive jets, cars, official residences and body guards. The conservative publication found out that while President Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault have “decreed a crackdown on lavish spending”, the measures are unlikely to produce any tangible results.

L’Express also regrets what it sees as the “systematic dismantling” by Hollande of his “predecessor’s legacy” such as pension reform and untaxed overtime work hours.

This week’s Le Nouvel Observateur closes up on celebrity tax payers in what the journal describes as “fiscal indignants” with the social protest group born in Spain very much on its mind. It is a list of musicians, writers and sportsmen whose colossal fortunes fall under the 75 percent wealth tax bracket.

"Panic time for the tycoons”, writes the left-leaning publication, as it observes hyperactivity at the offices of fortune managers and an upsurge of adrenaline at fiscal law firms and luxury real estate businesses.

The magazine names those who are leaving such as movie star Alain Delon, and rock star Johnny Hallyday. Former tennis star turned musician Yannick Noah and comedian Djammel Debbouze are among those willing to stay. Le Nouvel Observateur explains that the showbiz world has been “boiling” ever since François Hollande unveiled his fiscal reforms, slammed by some millionaires as “racketeering”.

Marianne denies that the very rich are fleeing France in droves following the terrified cries of the opposition and the welcoming mat put out by British Prime Minister David Cameron. According to the left-leaning magazine,  the centre-right party UMP runs the risk of creating a psychosis far more devastating for the country if they continue shaking the red rags under the noses of “wealthy” company chiefs likely to be affected by the new fiscal measures.

Marianne says the rich can “sleep peacefully”, explaining that while fiscal services have a formidable arsenal of weapons to track down tax evaders, the administration has been quite clumsy and inefficient in using them.

L’Express publishes new revelations pointing to strange connections in the Mohamed Merah affair, after excerpts of the scooter terrorist’s last conversations with the police were aired by the French private broadcaster TF1.

According to the right-wing magazine, seven of the last phone calls he made before being killed by an elite squad have been traced to a number at the DCRI, the Central internal intelligence agency.

Le Point points to a prevailing malaise at the intelligence agency when meetings took place between Merah and two secret service agents in November 2011 after he returned from trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The conservative weekly says it suspects that the DCRI had recruited Merah as an informer.

Le Canard Enchaîné reports that Interior Minister Manuel Valls still has not received the detailed report on the affair that he ordered last month, due to unexplained feet-dragging at the intelligence agency. One insider told the satirical weekly that the DCRI investigators either haven’t found a smoking gun, which is serious, or are trying to hide what they discovered, which is grave.

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