French press review 7 November 2014

President François Hollande’s prime-time television interview Thursday and the effort he put up to redeem his apparently doomed office is everyone’s front page story this morning. The Socialist leader, who midway into his time at the Elysée Palace has become the most unpopular French president since polls began, faced a rather hostile jury composed of blunt TF1 journalists and angry voters.


During the fierce grilling a defensive Hollande admitted making errors but asked who hasn’t, reiterating that he had a thick enough skin to stay the course and complete the measures he had initiated to reform the crisis-hit country.

It was a daunting task comments Libération, its managing editor Laurent Joffrin pointing out that Hollande managed to dish out a little glimmer of hope despite his catastrophic standing in the polls and the disappointments that have characterised the first half of his term of office.

The left-leaning newspaper says Hollande confronted the criticism with vehemence and announced with a degree of honesty that the efforts put in will end up paying off in 10 years.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

What was lacking in Hollande’s hard talk with the people, according to Libé, is his failure to speak to the left, which is taken aback not just by the stagnation of the economy but also by his reforms. His political opponents will not spare him, that’s part of the game, writes Libé, but it wonders if his own camp is in any mood to give him a chance.

“Why the hell did he get himself in such a mess?” wonders Le Figaro. The right-wing daily claims that a politician of his calibre should have known that in some situations it is better to keep quiet. According to Le Figaro, by deciding to go to the TFI studio, he forgot a simple rule and set a booby trap for himself.

Hollande had nothing to say and wasted people’s time babbling about a France which exists only in his mind, which is appalling, for Le Figaro, which believes that more and more people are moving abroad because of desperation. The sentiment that France is in decline is fanned by the government’s inability to hold the fort, it says.

La Croix is shocked by revelations that the Duchy of Luxembourg operated a secret system which offered huge tax breaks to global companies which funnelled billions of dollars through the country, thereby depriving hard-up governments of revenue.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

“Poor Luxembourg,” gloats La Croix, sarcastically feeling sorry that everyone is pointing an accusing finger at the tiny country which managed to cut secret deals with some 300 multinational firms.

Household names such as Pepsi, Apple, US internet company Amazon, the Insurance giant Axa and the German Deutsche Bank were among companies named by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) following a six-month investigation of 28,000 leaked documents, according to the Catholic daily.

L'Humanité laughs its lungs out after learning that the man holding the keys to the fiscal paradise while advocating social hell for the people of Europe was Jean Claude Juncker the new President of the European Commission, who was prime minister of the Duchy at the time. For the Communist party newspaper, Juncker’s conduct is morally and politically unacceptable and he must be held accountable for it.

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