French press review 26 August 2016

The French dailies are dominated by news of Nicolas Sarkozy's first day on the presidential campaign trail, after the former president announced this week that he will run in next year’s presidential election. And there are obituaries to fashion icon Sonia Rykiel.

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"At Châteaurenard, Sarkozy denounces half solutions," says Le Figaro after Sarkozy’s first day on the campaign trail in a small town near Arles in Provence.

At the meeting, the former president assured he would not go soft on the serious problems facing France.

The "Everything for France" campaign begins in the south, the report says, alluding to the name of Sarkozy’s campaign taken from his book published this week, Tout pour la France.

After the announcement of his candidacy, and the launch of the book, his campaign began "at the epicentre of his electoral base", surrounded by his closest political supporters, including the mayor of Marseille Jean-Claude Gaudin, and fellow conservative politicians Eric Woerth and Luc Chatel.

The former president chose to make his first campaign speech in a small town of the Bouches-du-Rhône region, at the heart of those electorates tempted by the Front National vote says the report.

His speech focused "on the return of French authority and identity" with Sarkozy planning to do away with the family reunion policy which allows new immigrants to bring their families to France.

Investigations cloud Sarko's campaign

Le Monde continues on the theme of Sarkozy’s candidacy in an editorial by columnist Françoise Fressoz who analyses Sarkozy’s return saying the former president's "weakness is the primary right", that is his Republican party contenders in the presidential race.

Fressoz also says that there is a big cloud of judicial problems hanging over Sarkozy's head which could impact his campaign.

Of all the right-wing candidates, she writes, Sarkozy is the one has been under the judicial spotlight the most, with his name mentioned in a multitude of investigations - seven in all - two of which led to him ending up before the court.

One was the so called Bygmalion case, where the UMP party - now Les Republicains - was accused of exceeding election expenses by 18.5 million euros in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Senior members of the party admitted there were "anomalies" in Sarkozy's campaign accounts but that he was not aware of the "slip".

The UMP was accused of ordering 11 million euro worth of fake invoices to cover the overspends.

The hearing is over Fressoz says, "though theoretically he could still be trialled for that".

Scandals will undermine Sarko

But she adds there is a kind of unspoken law among judges during a presidential campaign, to "make a truce" on such cases - putting them to rest - and thus leaving little likelihood of a trial.

Secondly, there was another major case of corruption with Sarkozy accused of influence peddling after phoning his lawyer pretending to be someone else. Again Fressoz says, there is little likelihood of a trial before the presidential election.

But nonetheless, these cases will weaken Sarkozy’s campaign she concludes.

Death of a fashion icon

Libération runs an obituary to the eponymous fashion designer Sonia Rykiel who died in the early hours of Thursday morning at the age of 86.

An icon with her red bangs, it says, Rykiel not only built a fashion empire but participated in the women's liberation movement, "especially with her famous little tight sweater" and whimsically printed knits.

Rykiel had been battling Parkinson’s disease bravely for nearly two decades.

Her fashion genius says the paper was making clothes which were both flattering and sexy, as well as comfortable - thus liberating the female body.

The skinny, long-sleeved 'poor-boy' sweater was her most famous design, particularly in the boldly striped colours for which she is recognised worldwide.

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