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French weekly magazines review

Text by: William Niba
6 min

Even the success of the government's same-sex marriage bill provides little respite for France's embattled president. But will the mainstream right reap the benefits of the noisy opposition to the reform? And did Sarkozy receive Kadhafi cash? 

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France’s catastrophic job figures have taken the shine off struggling French President François Hollande first big legislative victory, the passing of the same-sex marriage bill by parliament.

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With more than 3.2 million people out of work, the worst figures in 15 years, and 74 per cent of voters unhappy with the president’s performance, Hollande missed out on the “gay marriage-for-all party”, satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné says. 

Hollande has had a “paradoxical week”, it points out,   just weeks to the first anniversary of his “marriage” to the French people, the wedding has become a very unhappy one.

For Le Canard, “everything seems to be turning against Hollande and he is never given credit for anything, whatever he does”.

So the marriage-for-all law which he championed under hostile circumstances will not help him “weather the tsunami of discontent” caused by the tax-fraud scandal of ex-budget minister Jérome Cahuzac, the catastrophic job figures and “other calamities”.

The satirical weekly points to another paradox caused by the gay marriage reform. It has become a uniting cause for radical right-wing activists, nationalists and conservatives, which could be “politically damaging” to the main opposition UMP party.

What the future holds for the “neo-cons” is also a major concern to Marianne. The weekly warns that there will be serious consequences when the “bourgeoisie and Christian-led marches shouting odious and insulting slogans at the government finally break up”.

“Street protest is now driving the conservatives,” says Le Nouvel Observateur and it explains that the question now is how to manage the new political generation born from the anti-gay marriage protests.

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For Le Figaro Magazine the anti-gay marriage coalition is a political windfall for the UMP opposition party as they are all dreaming of settlings scores with the Socialists in forthcoming local elections. The right-wing magazine is praying that the government’s wealth tax will remain a lasting cause for discontent against the president’s policies.

Left-leaning Marianne is sheds tears over the “slow agony and great distress” of small business bosses. They are the ones “weaving the country’s industrial mesh” by supplying half of its workforce, says Marianne. They are toiling like crazy to stay afloat, yet they feel despised by the government and ignored by the CAC 40 barons with whom they are often associated.

After analysing the disastrous French job figures, Le Point wonders if the French could be “Europe’s laziest workforce”. The journal bases its assumptions on the fact that young people are entering the labour market later than elsewhere, while seniors retire early.

“It’s a taboo”, says Le Point and it explains that no one in power admits that the “French exception” of retirement at 60 - an option not actually available to all - and the 35-hour work week harms the economy.

To make its point, Le Point names the professions with a “cool” approach to work and some “paradises for skivers”. Air traffic controllers head the list, according to the magazine, which says they work 32 hours a week but take up to 97 days off as annual leave. Paris city’s 57,000 workers are described as the “kings of absenteeism”. Each of them was found to spend an average 20 days away from work every year.

Le Canard Enchaîné reports that four judges are now involved in the search of former Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s money here in France. They are tracking down gifts, which the ousted dictator allegedly gave to his French friends.

Ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy is again cited by the satirical weekly as one of the men the judges would be interested in meeting. It recalls that in 2011 one of Kadhafi’s sons Saif al-Islam asked him to refund the money he received from Libya to bankroll his campaign.

That was a few days after the launch of the Western-led operation against the Kadhafi regime. The money is said to be as much as 50 million euros and two Kadhafi aides, his secret service chief, Moussa Koussa, and his cabinet director, Bachir Saleh, will have to tell the judges what they know about the money, according to Le Canard Enchaîné.

Marianne reviews a book about how the tiny Gulf state of Qatar is buying everything in mighty France.

The authors, Nicolas Beau and Jacques-Marie Bourget, give a pulsating account of how the emirate is “raining dollars” on the country through the premier league football club, Paris Saint Germain and neighborhood groups.

Qatar's goal, according to the authors, is to convert French Muslims to Wahabbism, the branch of Islam close to the Muslim Brotherhood. Marianne reports that Qatar shelled out 1.6 billion euros to buy Printemps, one of Paris’s most glamorous shops. Marianne is gasping for breath and wondering if the Qataris aren’t turning France into a “tax haven”.

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