French press review 19 June 2012
The front pages show great variety this morning, given that they're all still in various stages of post-electoral shock.
Left-leaning Libération has a fine cartoon of president François Hollande in Superman mode, flying across the headline "Can the Left beat the crisis?"
Our friend Frank turns out great in blue tights and red underpants, with tons of muscles, but the artist has drawn him with his glasses on, which finally makes him look a bit more like Clark Kent, the weed who does Superman's day job.
The small print suggests that the job might even be beyond the powers of Superman, since the distinction between interior and exterior politics no longer means anything, at least on the crucial economic questions.
SuperFrank has to make the grim guardians of austerity believe in his vision of a growth-driven eurozone, despite the fact that growth is currently going backwards almost everywhere.
He has to steer a socialist sense of state sovereignity past the other, predominantly conservative, European leaders. And he has to find a way of continuing to help the struggling eurozone nations, without beggaring the few who still have their heads above water.
Hollande, says Libé, has nothing to fear from the Brussels technocrats whose single solution to each successive crisis over the past four years has simply been to throw more money into the black hole. It hasn't worked, as we all know to our cost, so it's time for French Frank to throw off the chains of economic orthodoxy and save the world.
Communist L'Humanité wonders how long it will be before the new government begins to make the hard choices, resisting the demands of the financial markets to respond to the needs of the electorate.
It's on the basis of its reaction to the urgent social questions that this new, all-powerful government will be judged. Except that it's a bit unfair to present the social and financial parts of the equation as if they weren't inextricably linked.
That Superman suit may come in handy before very long.
Catholic La Croix attempts to guage the impact of the French and Greek election results on the future of Europe as an economic and monetary union.
They don't get very far, beyond remarking that Greece has, at least temporarily, managed to avoid the worst, and that the new rulers of France face some tough choices.
Perhaps we get a hint of things to come from the front page of the business daily, Les Echos. The headline reads "New tax on share profits to be introduced this summer". Basically, businesses will have to pay the state the equivalent of 3% of the dividends they shell out to shareholders.
That will bring in an estimated 800 million euros each year, and is primarily aimed at forcing businesses to re-invest their ill-gottens, rather than making the fat cats even more so.
The new tax on financial transactions, voted by the departing Fillon government and due to come into effect on 1 August, will indeed become law, but with an as-yet-unspecified increase in the tenth of 1 percent which the Fillon fellahs thought would do nicely.
When it comes to taxing the stinky rich, seems to be the message, the social saviours won't be measuring their cuts in tenths of a percent. No siree!
And, turning a blind eye to all such distasteful details, right wing Le Figaro looks at how the former ruling party, the UMP, is trying to find a new leader and a new direction in the wake of the recent presidential and parliamentary defeats.
The new leader won't be all that new, since the main contenders, François Fillon, Alain Juppé and Jean-François Copé, have all been around since the time of the dinosaurs.
The danger is that the battle to succeed Sarkozy may be as bloody as dinosaur dinnertime, leaving the right wing even more bitterly and openly divided than it already is. Get the dirty work over quickly, suggests Le Figaro, so that we'll all have forgotten the bloodshed by the time of the next presidential campaign.
The mainstream right has also, according to Le Figaro, to decide what to do about the increasing popularity of the extreme National Front. Can they attract far-right voters without theselves being stigmatised as xenophobic racists?
Of all the challenges facing the defeated and disorganised UMP, that may turn out to be the most serious.