French press review 4 December 2015


Traditional French parties in blame game as polls forecast strong showing for the National Front in Sunday's regional elections. Mastermind of Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam has probably fled to Syria according to the latest intelligence reports. Bernard Tapie's  reparations claim for Adidas sale boomerangs into giant fine.


We start with Le Parisien’s latest update about the hunt for the mastermind of the Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam. The paper relays revelations by a Hungarian government spokesperson on Thursday that a man in Budapest identified as one of the main organizers of the terrorist attacks in Paris recruited a team at the main Keleti train station in the Hungarian capital in November.

The Hungarian official reportedly refused to name the terrorist but another government source is quoted by the Parisian newspaper as saying that the man was Salah Abdeslam adding that the jihadists he recruited were from a group of refugees who refused to be registered.

Le Parisien also quoted an intelligence source in the French capital close to the investigations as saying that the car Salah Abdeslam, rented in Brussels was geographically located on September 17 in Hungary.

But according to the official, investigations have not formally established that the 26 year-old Brussels-based French citizen with an international arrest warrant on his head was the man on board the rented car and if he was accompanied.

However, the paper reports that Salah Abdeslam was subjected to a routine identity check by Austrian police a few days earlier, precisely on September 9 as he crossed into the country in the same Belgian registered car from the German border.

The Austrian Interior Ministry said in a statement issued on November 17 he was allowed to continue his journey because he told police he was on a week-long vacation with friends in Austria.

According to Le Parisien, Salah Abdeslam remains at large since police lost track of him on November 14 in Brussels. Investigators have reportedly not ruled out the possibility that he may have since sought refuge in Syria.

Le Monde’s front page spread is about the growing influence of the National Front in the French country side as France prepares to vote in regional elections on Sunday.

Right-wing Le Figaro blames the fall out on President Francois Hollande’s economic policies which have allowed France's unemployment rate to climb to a near 18-year high of 10.2 percent in the third quarter.

France’s jobless figures rose by 75,000 over the quarter to stand at 2.9 million people, despite the French economy returning to growth in the third quarter with a 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter expansion.

The conservative publication also argues that Hollande’s tax overkill policy allowed compulsory levies to reach 45 percent of the French GDP in this crucial election year. According to Le Figaro, with such a record, all that National Front leader Marine Le Pen and her friends have to do is bend down and pick up votes.

Libération blasts opposition leader Nicolas Sarkozy for ruling out a second round alliance with the Socialists in constituencies where candidates of “Les Republicains” party are facing defeat from the hands of the National Front. According to the left-leaning newspaper, he is betting on the humiliation of rivals in the party’s presidential primaries such as Xavier Bertrand.

The Catholic daily La Croix warns that the abstention rate may hit record levels due to the trauma resulting from the Paris attacks.

The Communist party daily l’Humanité believes it is still possible for voters to choose a “Social” Republic” against the fear mongers.

And Libération inspects the ravages of the boomerang that has hit French tycoon Bernard Tapie. This is after the Paris appeals court ordered the former owner of sportswear giant Adidas, on Thursday to repay 404 million euros he had been awarded in a long-running dispute with Credit Lyonnais bank.

The judge also ruled that Tapie, must pay the legal costs and interest on the money he was awarded by an arbitration panel in 2008 as compensation for Credit Lyonnais defrauding him by undervaluing Adidas when he sold the company in 1993. In a hearing in September, 72-year-old Tapie had demanded damages of between 516 million and 1.2 billion Euros.

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