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French weekly magazines review 7 September 2014

Text by: William Niba
5 min

The magazines are all talking about the triple whammy of calamities that have befallen President François Hollande this week. 


It began with the resignation of International trade minister Thomas Thevenoud forced out after only nine days because of "problems with a tax declaration". The news broke as a new survey for Le Figaro Magazine found that confidence in the Socialist leader had plunged to an all-time low of 13 percent.

With unemployment standing at a record high of 10 percent, and the economy stuck at zero growth in the first two quarters of the year, the right wing newspaper says it isn’t surprised that only 1 percent of the French have confidence in Hollande’s ability resolve the country's economic problems.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

And for Le Figaro, the publication of the contemptuous memoirs of former First Lady Valérie Trierweiler has been causing a stir. In Thank You for the Moment, she slams Hollande as being cold, smug and contemptuous of the poor. A perfect end to a disastrous day.

Le Nouvel Observateur speculates on whether the new Economy minister Emmanuel Macron aged just 36 may be the man of the moment. The left-leaning journal investigates his networks, his knowledge of the corporate world and his pragmatism. It doubts he will be able to rally the most reluctant of Socialists on board and put the economy back on the rails. The mission that awaits him is a tall one, either he succeeds, or he will remain the liberal scarecrow left-wing Socialists are denouncing.

Le Canard Enchaîné says it is not surprised that the Front National party is clamouring for the dissolution of parliament and calling for an eventual coalition government with the Socialists. The FN has been emboldened by a new TNS/Sofrès poll showing that its leader Marine Le Pen would defeat Francois Hollande if Presidential elections were held today.

But the satirical weekly says no one in the traditional governing parties wants a repeat of the terrible arm-wrestling stand off which paralyzed France during the Mitterrand and Chirac presidencies.

Marianne uncovers some of the well-kept secrets about the controversial special status enjoyed by Qatar in France. According to the weekly, it is President Nicolas Sarkozy who turned France into a private hunting ground for the small Gulf state.

Marianne draws abundantly from a new sensational book by Vanessa Ratignier and Pierre Péan documenting the sulphurous relationship between Paris and Doha.

The book entitled How we were delivered to Qatar makes the shocking revelation that the tiny country’s leader Cheikh Hamad ben Khalifa al-Thani once boasted about being the one who paid the 3 million euros Nicolas Sarkozy’s ex-wife Cecilia set as settlement for their divorce in 2008. The book quotes Anis Naccache, a close Lebanese friend to the Qatari leader as the source of the story.

The authors also recall an incident when President Chirac warned Sarkozy to be careful about rumours of corruption surrounding him fomented by the Qatari Prime minister. Marianne says it is probably the fat pay check paid to the French President that transformed the tiny country into a major actor on the global diplomatic stage.

Like secrets? Find out about the Hidden Paris

L’Express documents on the fears of France’s Jewish population amid rising anti-Semitism, and insecurity following anti-Israeli protests in Paris, sparked by Tsahal’s deadly military operations in Gaza. According to the newspaper, while some members of the community are expressing the desire to migrate to Israel, some Jewish leaders call the unrest a form of schizophrenia.

And if you have lost all hope in finding happiness in this world of problems and stress you still have a chance of preparing a joyful funeral for yourself. At least, if you happen to be one of the new breed of Americans featured in Le Point.

One African American family in New Jersey had the original idea of decorating their son’s coffin with his best dishes, such as scrambled egg and bacon which he enjoyed having for breakfast. Le Point reports that the late boy’s mother kept frying sausages and eggs while the predicator sang his favourite folk song at the service.

According to Le Point, the funeral director who organized the young Quinton’s ceremony specialized in extravagant funerals and hosts a reality show on a local television channel known as “the best funeral ever”. Le Point says he’s overwhelmed by demands for personalized ceremonies with Led Zeppelin-type rock tunes booming in the background instead of the traditional organ and spiritual music.

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