French press review 03 ctober 2014

France’s most unpopular president in modern history, François Hollande, is probably enjoying a brief moment of calm as the attack dogs of the French press go after ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy.


The former champion of the French conservatives was in the city of Troyes Thursday for a public meeting, his second campaign outing in his bid to become leader of the main opposition UMP party.

While Sarkozy was busy claiming that the several graft cases against him are orchestrated by his enemies, Le Figaro reports that his main rival, former prime minister and current Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé, scored solid points on a popular prime-time political show on television. Both men are locked in a long-distance duel, according to the paper.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

It is not just a duel but a war pitting friends of 30 years against each other, according to Le Monde. The paper says Juppé and another Sarkozy rival, ex-premier François Fillon, are snipers waiting to take advantage of Sarkozy’s legal woes.

Libération says that Sarkozy’s campaign is treading water, pointing to the ravages of the Bygmalion affair and the fact that both Juppé and Fillon have missed no opportunity to point out contradictions in his behaviour. Libé quotes Fillon’s reference to Bygmalion as a long-term business partner of the UMP, casting doubt on Sarkozy’s claim that he only heard about the existence of the company after the 2012 presidential elections.

Le Parisien says that Sarkozy’s proposal to replace the "jobs for life" of France’s five million public-service workers with five-year contracts is aimed at discrediting Fillon’s proposal to cut 600,000 jobs from the public workforce if he wins the Elysée in 2017. According to the paper, Sarkozy’s late move has sparked angry reactions from the government and the unions which accuse him of trying to dismantle the public service.

Sarkozy’s campaign suffered another blow on Thursday when another former president, the still-popular Jacques Chirac, came out in favour of Juppé.

Like secrets? Find out about the Hidden Paris

Chirac told Le Figaro he had always known that Juppé would answer the call of destiny and that of France. "Few things would give me as much pleasure, for me, for him and especially for our country," the former president said.

He added that, if he had the energy, he would already have booked his place, even a minor one, in Juppé's campaign headquarters. The comments put Chirac at loggerheads with his wife Bernadette, a major supporter of Sarkozy who in an earlier interview branded Juppé "very, very cold and not attractive to people".

According to Libé, Sarkozy’s comeback plans, which got off to a blistering start are now stagnating, threatened by the Bygmalion bills falsification scandal, added to his other legal worries.

Le Parisien reports that, after the charging of three directors of the company and the questioining of former UMP officials, the judges have decided to accelerate the process. Now over to the politicians, the paper says.

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