French weekly magazines review

A far-right electoral win worries most commentators. A secret government memo warns of anger and cynicism among the electorate. A new book makes new allegations of corruption in the mainstream right. And a Pakistani lawyer takes on the CIA.


The victory of the Front National (FN) in a local by-election for a seat formerly held by the Communist Party in south-east France has unleashed a storm of comments in this week’s magazines, predicting an far-right electoral tsunami in France. Marine Le Pen's party scored 53 per cent, although 60 per cent of the constituency’s electorate abstained from voting.

According to Marianne, the result in Brignoles confirms that Marine Le Pen’s party has carved out a green zone of new voters pouring in from the Communist Party, the ruling Socialists and the opposition UMP.

For Marianne this is the high price the government parties are paying for 30 years of failed policies. The two movements are not as different as they say, argues the left-wing magazine. It notes the pair have failed woefully in resolving problems such as unemployment, the fiscal burden, pension reform, justice delivery, housing, civil liberties, security and immigration.

Le Nouvel Observateur has been reading an explosive confidential memo prepared by the interior ministry. It speaks about boiling anger over the social decay ravaging the country and about the loss of trust in the government and political establishment. The left-leaning publication warns that such disaffection could transform upcoming council, regional and even presidential elections into a plebiscite against the government.

What is happening is a Marinisation of French minds, argues Le Point, a phrase derived from the name of the Front National leader Marine Le Pen. The weekly warns that while populism and xenophobia are the ingredients feeding the rise of the FN, the desperate campaign to stigmatise the far-right movement has backfired and shattered the "republican front" that the pair had used as a shield to shut the FN out of government politics.

Le Point thinks that a mixture of fatigue and fatalism might be responsible for the widely held opinion that France is suffering from a generated decline

Le Canard Enchaîné satirises the launch at last of a post-mortem of the Sarkozy presidency. According to the weekly, the political audit is being undermined by a new tell-it-all book by Didier Schuller, a former director general of public housing in the Hauts-de-Seine area who was convicted for corruption.

Schuller was the manager of the affairs of former president Jacques’ RPR party, says the paper, and is currently fighting to become mayor of the Paris suburb of Clichy. Schuller, according to Le Canard, talks about “an inflation of kickbacks” paid to his friends such as Chirac, ex-interior minister Charles Pasqua and former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

L’Express says the discord between Sarkozy and his longtime premier Francois Francois Fillon, which is poisoning the atmosphere in the opposition UMP, may not be as recent as most people think. The assumption is based on revelations in a book by Frederic Mitterrand who served as Sarkozy’s last culture minister. Mitterrand recalls an instance when Sarkozy scorned Fillon for spending his time reading newspapers. The author claims that Fillon once branded Sarkozy “mal élevé” (badly brought up).

Dossier: Pakistan General Election 2013

Le Point has a profile of Western-trained Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who has launched a blistering attack on the CIA.

Akbar has filed a series of law suits at home and abroad against the US spy agency as the list of civilians killed in drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan keeps rising.

Le Point reports that British and American researchers estimate that the casualty toll now stands at 884 civilians. Le Point says a rumour is spreading in Pakistan that the receivers guiding the drones are hidden in sachets of Lipton tea.

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