French weekly magazines review

The French weekly magazines are dominated by a week-long electoral crisis at the UMP, the party of former president Nicholas Sarkozy, as the right-wing party appoints a new leader.


Following a bitter leadership battle between Jean-François Copé and former prime minister François Fillon, some of the weeklies are biting their fingers after rushing to declare Copé as the deserving winner of the close race. Le Figaro celebrated the triumph of a strong-willed man called Copé, who was moulded under presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, and who now has to emancipate himself of those bonds and start working to reunite the fractured party.

Le Point says Nicholas Sarkozy was the real winner of the chaotic election, posting a photograph of the ex-President wearing a broad smile on the cover page. L’Express says the war is in no way over. The magazine holds that the calamitous outcome of the UMP presidential race will be ravaging for both the self-proclaimed winner Copé and François Fillon.

In its own comments about the outcome of the UMP vote, Marianne brands Jean Francois Copé as “the other hooligan of the Republic” and an opportunist, accusing him of digging for ideas from the far-right.

The left-leaning magazine also published a photo album of Copé’s controversial holiday aboard the yacht of the Lebanese millionaire Ziad Takieddine. He is a prime suspect in the Karachi affair, a complex probe into alleged kickbacks on arms deals and suspicions that 11 French engineers killed in a 2002 bombing in Pakistan was revenge for the cancellation of bribes secretly promised to Pakistani officials.

Marianne says Copé’s ties with the tycoon may explain why François Fillon referre to Copé’s self-proclaimed victory as evidence of political and moral decay. For Marianne, this shows Copé’s election at the helm of the UMP will be a wind for the Socialist government and a disaster for France.

Le Canard Enchaîné makes new revelations about ex-president Sarkozy’s final days in the Elysée. It reports he gave his friends a treat of 19 million Euros, spending the entire annual budget of the council support fund for 2012 between January and May before leaving office. According to the satirical weekly, this is all the more incredible because the Elysée had no legal right to manage the credit line which was voted by parliament to subsidise so-called projects of public interest.

Le Canard Enchaîné also claims Sarkozy played a role in the UMP leadership race. It says Sarkozy was jubilating while Fillon and Copé were tearing each other apart, each accusing the other of massive fraud and ballot stuffing. Le Canard quotes friends who spent the election evening with the former president saying that he was particularly pleased with Copé’s spectacular performance as he pulled ahead of Fillon. According to Le Canard, Sarkozy told his friends that Fillon’s failure to win virtually eliminates him from the 2017 presidential race.

This is the best case scenario for Sarkozy, says Le Nouvel Observateur, adding that it opens a promising political space for him as he contemplates his future.

Aside from the UMP election quagmire, Le Nouvel Observateur runs a special supplement on sexual violence in France. The journal published a fervent appeal from 313 women who are victims of sexual assaults amid new findings that one women is raped every eight minutes in France. The focus includes a testimony by a young Kenyan woman who managed to flee Saudi Arabia where she was repeated abused while working as a house girl for a Saudi prince.

Le Canard Enchaîné looks at what it calls the “post-orgasmic syndrome” that caused the downfall of the former CIA boss David Petraeus. The satirical paper says Petraeus’s mischief shows that US generals are tired after 11 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Le Canard points to an irony that two desperate housewives have succeeded in doing what the Taliban and Osama Ben Laden were unable to do – to bring down the head of the CIA.

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