French weekly magazines review
The first steps taken by the new French government to tackle the colossal budget deficit and to put the crisis-plagued economy back on track receive wide coverage in the French weeklies.
L'Express reviews a hectic week marked by the EU Summit in Brussels which it admits was a diplomatic success for President Francois Hollande, parliament's confidence vote on Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's general policy declaration, and preparations for next week's national social conference scheduled on the 9 and 10 of July.
According to the right-leaning magazine, these events held over just a few days are defining moments which reflect the context under which the government will operate over the next five years.
L'Express argues that even though budget austerity was not the surprise guest at the deliberations, it will definitely poison the government's plan of action. The magazine says that is something the government will not admit.
But according to the conservative publication, it will be impossible to redress public finances in 2013 without raising social levies and the Value Added Tax. For L’Express, the choice is contamination either by cholera or by plague.
Le Canard Enchaîné brandishes the 40 billion euro bill that must be raised to balance the 2012-2013 budgets. The satirical weekly says government must find six or seven billion immediately and the rest over the next 18 months.
Le Canard Enchaîné says it does not understand why Prime Minister Ayrault can not admit he is feeling the pinch of austerity when he has removed champagne from the list of drinks served at his official Matignon residence.
Le Canard suspects there is an austerity syndrome haunting French prime ministers, and causing goose bumps on the faces of Ayrault’s predecessors starting from Pierre Mauroy in 1983 running up to Francois Fillon who left Matignon in May.
Le Point is urging the Socialist-led government to “stop all the rubbish”. The phrase is the caption of Le Point’s cover page story this week, printed on a photograph of President Hollande in the background.
The right-wing magazine accuses the Socialists of playing with the nerves of the French taking advantage of the calamitous situation of the economy and waiting for a convenient moment to bring out harsh austerity measures hidden in office drawers. Le Point also lists 50 top officials, mostly Sarkozy cronies, whose jobs it claims are on the line, because the new government needs to bring in their own people.
There is an exclusive interview of President Francois Hollande in this week’s Marianne. President Hollande takes questions on issues such as Europe, ties with his German and American counterparts, his job, not forgetting his partner Valerie Trierweiler embroiled in a domestic dispute with his children’s mother.
It is the very first time Hollande is addressing the Twitter issue which has ruffled President Hollande’s “Mister Normal” image. He told Marianne that he trusts her capacity to analyze the consequences of her actions and to deal with them.
Marianne’s also publishes a special investigative report on French VIPs. The journal says that people classified under the very powerful group live in a hallucinating world of their own. They are always in a hurry and never queue up.
According to Marianne they never pay the asking price for anything they buy and often abuse their prerogatives that go with their positions. For Marianne, the investigative report is a fantastic study of how VIPs delight in soft corruption.
There are strong reactions in the French weeklies to the campaign of destruction unleashed on the Malian city of Timbuktu by hard-line Islamists.
Le Point condemns the “desecration” of the sacred mausoleums erected in memory of the 333 Muslim saints protecting the city. The journal reports that the Taliban-looking barbarians have broken the holy door shielding the Sidi Yahia mosque constructed in the 15th century, which had been expected to remain closed until the end of the world, according to local Muslim tradition.
Marianne explains that the edifices which are part of the heritage of Sufi Islam, the faith of ancient Africa considered as “impure” by Ansar Dine Wahhabit fundamentalists.
For Le Nouvel Observateur, what is at stake in Timbuktu is a battle between a barbaric concept of Islam and the real Islam, the brilliant, open and joyful Muslim religion of the people of Africa since the 10th and 12th centuries.
Le Nouvel Observateur says the world can’t continue to stand and watch, while Al Qaeda and their proxies push forward with the creation of a Sharia state in northern Mali, and open a new front in their international Jihad against civilization on the Southern fringes of the Sahara.