French press review 22 June 2012
The main stories attracting comments in today’s French papers are the budget problems of the new Socialist-led government, the quarrels and disputes that have broken out within the defeated centre-right UMP and the stakes of France’s showdown against Spain at the Euro-2012 football tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Libération weighs the tight financial options facing Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s government.
The left-leaning newspaper warns that "austerity is round the corner", while pointing to the tough ride ahead, that of raising a shortfall of 10 billion euros in the new budget.
According to Libération, the Socialists are facing a dilemma: how to raise the colossal amount through new levies and spending cuts, without reneging on President François Hollande’s campaign promises.
L’Humanité vents its frustrations about “this first real test facing the government”. The Communist Party daily sees the budget shortfall as part of Sarkozy’s legacy, aimed at embarrassing the left and forcing the government to raise taxes.
Les Echos has some reassuring news for its readers about the government’s much-awaited increase of the minimum wage. The paper says it will be limited to two per cent, much lower than the bosses' union Medef had feared. The business newspaper explains that the government is keen to make a significant gesture towards low-income workers without penalising small and medium size enterprises.
Le Parisien brings under scrutiny the first reforms introduced by Justice Minister Christiane Taubira. They include putting a top limit on prison sentences and the simplification of judicial procedures that piled up under the previous government.
This is Toubira’s first major interview since the long-serving politician from French Guyana became the first black person to be appointed to the high-ranking portfolio. She tells Le Parisien she is unruffled by mounting criticism from conservative circles.
Le Monde says that for the French right wing now is the time to settle political scores. The paper reports that UMP secretary Jean-François Copé has scored points and is ahead of former prime minister François Fillon in the battle for the party’s leadership.
This as two new books sowing confusion in the party hit the stands. One of the publications is an “anti-Sarkozy diatribe” by former health minister Roselyne Bachelot, according to the respected evening newspaper.
Le Figaro hails “Germany’s push to bolster a politically driven Europe”. The conservative paper runs an exclusive interview with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in which he explains the cardinal points of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s agenda for Europe. He tells Le Figaro that the eurozone financial and debt crisis has given a greater sense of urgency to European integration.
Two of France’s free national newspapers Métro and 20 Minutes are all about Saturday’s do-or-die match between France and Spain at the Euro 2012 tournament. They disagree on France’s chances of winning a place in the semi-finals. It's mission impossible but within reach, as “Blues defy Spanish ogre”, writes Métro.
For 20 Minutes “Euroscepticism” is on every French mind, as the Blues, tense and divided after their two-nil drubbing by Sweden, can only pray for a miracle when they go out against the reigning world and European champions.