French weekly magazines review 13 December 2015

"Disturbing noises from the ballot box"; "National Front on the gates of power"; "Conservatives begin decisif battle with sworn enemies (the National Front)"; "President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls at dead end and confused"; "Are you ok, France?" These are the captions you will find in the cover pages of this week’s magazines.


Three of the six main publications regularly reviewed in our program carry full blown photographs of National Front leader Marien Le Pen after her party’s shock performance  in the first round of this week’s regional elections. Her National Front emerged victorious in six of France’s newly merged 13 regions.

L’Express and the New Observer L’Obs dwell on the implications of the dramatic swing to the far right by French voters and the hard choices President Hollande faces to restore a degree of sanity in what Le Canard Enchainé describes as the unknown voter pulling the populist strings before it becomes too late.

He comes from the left and  voted massively for Conservative  Jacques Chirac in the 2002 Presidential elections to "prevent Jean Marie Le Pen from seizing the Elysée", recalls the satirical weekly. For Le Canard, the "unknown voter who spent five full years in deep pain watching Monsieur Chirac implement his right-wing agenda swore never to sacrifice his vote again".

As the weekly observes, after the Socialist party’s appeal for a Republican vote to defeat Marine Le Pen, "he doesn’t sleep any more and spends time in bed hitting the pillow and pulling his hair despite his high sense of duty and history and his understanding of the difference between a Republican and a fascist, as well as the implications his vote can cause to France’s image".

"Let there be no confusion about what the people and decision makers have in the back of their minds when they talk about the National Front", argues Marianne’s boss Jacques Julliard. From his point of view, there aren't 28 percent of fascists in France.

He claims that "contrary to the apocalyptic scenarios painted by the commentators in their headlines and editorials, the day after the December 6 ballot, for the fraction of people who voted for Marine Le Pen, the National Front is perceived a a working class movement , more populist perhaps but clearly more proletarian than the Communist party during its time of splendour" .

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"Le Penism was not created in a single day" writes Le Point's Managing editor Franz Olivier Giesbert in this week’s editorial. He says "it didn’t come out of Francois Mitterrand’s hat" either and was not delivered solely by unemployment, the flow of migrants and the increased feeling of insecurity.

According to the Le Point boss, it's "the fruit of a long process and the result of of several causes : the stigma of France’s moral and political decadence, the baby of French fears, cowardice, hypocrisy and conditioned reflexes".

And for L’Express’ editor Christophe Barbier, "the so-called Republican parties have not just lost the election but given two slaps", whatever the outcome of today’s second round ballot. President Hollande "punished for his poor record and for failing to conjure a new Socialism, and opposition leader Nicolas Sarkozy for being unable to incarnate change, present a new face and propose a new enthusiastic project".

"A credible project is indeed what Sarkozy’s Les Republicains party needs" agrees Le Figaro Magazine’s Guillame Roquette . He says that the Socialists have fully understood the profit they can draw from the fight to death pitting the conservative party and the National Front.

That is why they quickly "sacrificed" their party’s officials in the north, the centre and the sunshine French Riviera, in order to boost the chances of victory for the list of centre-right coalition.

More so according to Roquette, Sarkozy’s "neither nor policy" in which he barred Republican candidates from merging with the Socialist against the National Front has not stopped the surge of Marine Le Pen’s party.

He also claims that The National Front prospers on the frailties of the right and the fear of putting its conservative and liberal feet on the floor. Hence warns in the conclusion of his editorial that "the opposition Les Republicains don't have much time left to stand up".

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