French weekly magazines review 5 February 2017


Most of the magazines in France lead with the presidential election this week. Unsurprisingly, the slow decline of the right-wing candidate François Fillon makes the headlines pretty much everywhere.


Fillon, once the favourite to win the presidential election, is falling behind in the opinion polls and it looks like soon he won’t have anyone left in his corner, politically.

Left-leaning Marianne carries the headline “the post-Fillon era has started”. It has one demand: for the candidates to show more transparency. The main opinion piece in the magazine talks about the “French exception.”

It says that in Scandinavian or Anglophone countries, a candidate facing the accusations that Fillon is, would already have given up. But no, not in France. Why? Because politicians seem to think their excuses will make up for everything.

An example? Fillon has not yet come out with a categorical denial of all the allegations, mostly he has talked about the importance of his ‘sense of family’.

Marianne says that although Fillon’s asked his supporters to hang on for another two weeks, the Party is already looking for a new candidate.

One MP from Fillon’s party says they are not so much wondering what he will do to survive, but how exactly he will pull out. So, so much for political solidarity. 

L’Express puts the centrist and former economy minister Emmanuel Macron on its cover, with the headline “Between Benoit Hamon’s victory and the Fillon affaire, can he win?”

The lead article says Macron is now among the front-runners, but that he still has a long way to go. It says his decision not to present his programme or manifesto yet is beginning to look like a tactical decision.

And rather than a programme, Macron says he has something called “a contract with the country”. And this “contract” will (finally) be revealed at the beginning of March - apparently.

In the meantime, well, we can only speculate as to what he will come up with. Only one more month to wait.

But the magazine’s editorial is all about the so-called PenelopeGate scandal, which has hurt Francois Fillon’s campaign. The magazine says it’s ‘Penelope Syndrome’ – the wife of the Greek hero Ulysses was also named Penelope. She famously worked during the day and undid all her work at night.

And the magazine says there seems to be the same pattern unfolding for Fillon.  Francois is slowly undoing everything he has worked hard to build because, like many politicians before him, he has taken advantage of the system and lied about it.

Left-leaning L’Obs also wonders whether Fillon can hold his ground. However, the magazine goes big this week on the far-right National Front (FN).

The magazine’s cover has a picture of its leader, Marine Le Pen, with a post-it slapped across her face that says “what she’s not telling you.”

The main article is titled “the Dark Side of the National Front”. It starts off by saying that France still has not figured out how to talk about the FN.

First, the magazine says, we denounced and demonized the party… maybe too much, L’Obs wonders. Now, it says, we need to try to understand how they managed to win over voters that were originally on the Left.

Right-leaning Le Point leads with none other than US President Donald Trump (long time no see...) and how he’s managed to provoke a “clash of civilisations”. The article goes into Trump’s past week: the wall in Mexico, the travel ban, NATO, Brexit… you name it, he has probably tweeted about it. 

But the editorial concentrates on why in France’s presidential race, Emmanuel Macron has been very lucky so far.

First Alain Juppé disappeared – a lot of people felt Juppé would cause more problems for Macron than Fillon.

Then, the Socialist rebel Benoit Hamon wins the nomination for the Socialist Party. This helped Macron because it removed the more centrist Socialist candidates. Le Point says the Left now has no credibility at all.

Then, Fillon’s difficulties appeared. All of this plays into the hands of Macron and who knows, there may be even more political drama coming our way the magazine says.

And Le Canard Enchainé… where the Fillon scandal started… continues to bury the Fillon family.

Their headline reveals that Penelope in fact received even more money than originally thought, with the paper imagining Fillon’s response to investigators “but I’m telling you she hasn’t done anything”...

Oh and by the way, their kids got some money as well Le Canard reveals. How’s that for a strong ‘sense of family’.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Keep up to date with international news by downloading the RFI app