French press review 25 September 2012
Will the French learn to hate their budget minister? Will anyone recgonise François Hollande at the UN? Should there be a referendum on the European fiscal pact? And how do you save your hard-earned cash if you live in France?
Libération has a punchy headline: "The government’s bad guy". Three days before the government discusses the next budget, Libération gives its front pages to Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac, the "monk-soldier of austerity", as it calls him.
In the portrait, the left-wing daily reveals that the minister, who is about to introduce a 30-billion-euro austerity package, is not very popular among his colleagues. The paper reckons that new tax measures show a very clear socialist approach of the budget.
They will target France’s biggest corporations and wealthiest families. The riches will see a new income tax bracket go up to 45 per cent on incomes over 150,000 euros.
In its editorial the paper says that 2013 budget is a political and fiscal meeting with destiny - the most important since World War II.
"France’s signature, its credibility and its social cohesion will be severely tested," it believes, adding that the proposed budget is fair in sharing the burden of "effort" , it presents some major weaknesses.
"This budget does not question the unsustainable model where the only engine of tepid growth is consumer spending financed by the debt," it declares.
Le Figaro is looking into French President François Hollande’s international stature as he prepares to address the UN General Assembly for the first time.
"Hollande is trying to get a grip," it declares. The president’s visit to New York will be a chance to end "foggy diplomacy" it feels but Hollande is largely a stranger at the "G192".
In Israel and the Palestinian territories, the president is persona incognita, according to the conservative paper. And the same goes for China, where, the paper says, political analysts refuse to comment on French foreign policy because they simply do not have an opinion.
"The French people want a referendum!" exclaims the L’Humanité. To find out if the French public wants the government to ratify the new European budget treaty by parliamentary vote, the communist daily commissioned an exclusive opinion poll.
The result allows no doubt: 49 per cent of the public disapprove submitting the treaty exclusively to parliament. “The need for a public debate is felt more and more strongly,” says the paper.
The paradox is that the same poll predicts that if the referendum was held, the yes, would win a majority, both on the right and on the left.
The article concludes by wondering why the government refuses the “truly democratic solution” of submitting the vital treaty to a popular vote.
It feels as if the Communist Party's daily is slightly disappointed by the results of the poll it commissioned.
“During the crisis, everything can be negotiated”, announces “During the crisis, everything can be negotiated”, announces Aujourd’hui en France.
It argues that the French have now “converted to crisis consumption mode”.
Being stingy has become a virtue, it believes, a sign of an “uninhibited” consumer. The existence of discount websites such as eBay, Groupon or Priceminister has contributed to consumer liberation, says the paper.
As usual, the daily gives some useful tips on negotiating better deals. It explains how to get 10 to 20 per cent off a new car, to negotiate a charge-free credit card, bring down the price of an apartment, threaten your phone operator to quit in order to get a better price on your new iPhone.
Good advice and good value for the 90 cents it costs you to buy the paper.