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French press review 4 July 2014

Text by: William Niba
5 min

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s dramatic offensive against an alleged government plot to sabotage his political comeback is pushed into the back pages this Friday as all French eyes and minds are in Brazil where the Blues clash with Germany in the 8th finals of the 2014 Football World Cup.

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Sarkozy was on Wednesday hit with charges including corruption and influence peddling after he was quizzed for 15 hours by judges investigating an alleged attempt to interfere in judicial proceedings in another case. The charges carry a theoretical maximum prison term of 10 years.

Right-wing Le Figaro criticises the excessive powers in the hands of judges who are abusing the judicial system for political ends and causing a loss of confidence in the judiciary. It points to voices which are rising in the opposition condemning so-called partisan judicial procedures and calling for a mandatory ban on trade unionism in the magistracy.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Conservatives in great disarray, as Sarkozy is charged for several counts of political corruption, headlines Le Monde. The paper criticises his attempt to cast doubt on the impartiality of the judiciary, noting this is a strategy he has tried to use before. According to Le Monde by portraying himself as a victim, Sarkozy hopes it would facilitate his return to politics.

Left-leaning Libération holds that while his return is now an open secret, he has strength in his wings. This, despite the fact that they’ve been clipped by the Bygmalion scandal. This scandal involves cronies who forged invoices for more than 10 million euros, spent in support of Sarkozy's 2012 campaign and fraudulently passed them off as UMP party expenses.

Sarkozy denies any knowledge of the apparent fraud which meant his campaign spent nearly 50 percent more than it was legally entitled to. Libé also points to a new BVA survey showing that 65 percent of French voters don’t want him to stand in the 2017 Presidential elections. The former prime minister and Bordeaux mayor, Alain Juppé is the preferred candidate of French voters with a 35 percent opinion rating against 20 for Sarkozy, according to Libération.

According to the Communist party daily L’Humanité, Sarkozy draws up a table of so-called 'tiny' words he used against judges -- conspiracy theory, abuse of power, influence peddling, illegal eavesdropping, and vengeance by syndicated magistrates. This shows how he has become a photocopy of Italy’s disgraced ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Click here for our coverage of Brazil World Cup 2014

And L’Equipe wants all French minds to be in Brazil all through the day as the Blues prepare to take on Germany at the mythical Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Nous y Voilà! or “here we are”, shouts the sports daily, its cover page carrying large pictures of its favoured match deciders -- Paul Pogba, and Mathieu Valbuena for the French squad and Thomas Müller and keeper Manuel Neuer for the Germans.

The Communist party daily L’Humanité recalls that tonight’s showdown will be the very first official game between the two European powerhouses in 32 years, in fact since the ugly World Cup quarter final clash in Sevilla in 1982.

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