Article published the Tuesday 11 December 2012 - Latest update : Tuesday 11 December 2012

French press review 11 December 2012

By Michael Fitzpatrick

The French papers focus today on the Socialist party's poor by-election results at the weekend as well as actor Gérard Depardieu's decision to move to Belgium...

Le Figaro's main headline reads "A slap on the wrist for Hollande". The right wing paper happily points out that the Socalists did badly in the first round of three by-elections at the weekend, and Le Figaro sees this as a sharp reminder to the president that French voters have already had enough of him and his left wing mates.

Turnout was low and there are still two Socialist candidates in the running, but it's still clearly not great news for Hollande's party.

Parliamentary elections 2012

Socialist voters seem disappointed by the new leaders; the right wing is so hot under the collar, it would rather move to Belgium. Analysts suggest that the majority party of the Left is losing touch with the rank and file, doing too much to save big business, not enough for struggling working households.

The next local elections in France are due in 2014.

In fairness, the Figaro editorial at least has a balanced headline: "Tears for the Socialists, but the UMP is no laughing matter".

The writer points out that it's no longer good enought to blame the crisis, the country wants to see the government deal with the problem, not hide behind it. And they'd like to see some unity of purpose, not clashes between ministers who each seem to have their own ways of saving the furniture.

Finally, Le Figaro calls for an end to the policy of "total taxation," insisting that increased taxes are not the answer, even if they are inflicted on the very rich.

As for the UMP, the main right wing party, currently a two-headed monster as the gentlemen leaders, Copé and Fillon, continue their knife fight to decide which of them is the supreme leader, Le Figaro says it's time to stop the nonsense, get the shop in order and start acting like a responsible opposition.

Voters last Sunday were not voting for the UMP, warns Le Figaro, they were voting against the government.

Otherwise, financial stories dominate the front pages.

The French actor, Gérard Depardieu, has decided to move his considerable fortune across the border into Belgium. Just 1 kilometre across the border, but sufficient to enable him to profit from the neighbouring country's generous tax regulations.

The best-paid actor in France, owner of restaurants, a chateau, a top class vineyard and some very expensive paintings, is now officially resident in Néchin, population 2,053 persons, described by one commentator as a "graveyard".

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Libération says it is time to create a sort of tax union in Europe, with the same rules for everyone, everywhere. Which will simply mean a shift from Néchin to Marrakech.

There is, however, some good news on the money front.

Financial daily Les Echos reports the extraordinary fact that the financial markets are currently loaning money to the French government at a loss. Yesterday, Paris borrowed 1,293 billion euros, at a rate of minus 0.012%. That means the state will have to pay less money back next September than it actually borrowed . . . 150,000 euros less, to be precise.

Why are the money-men being so generous? Well, Italy is part of the reason, with the Mario and Silvio show shaking investor confidence, and leaving those with ready cash short of safe places to stash the loot.

And France is also looking good as a long-term bet: ten year government bonds are now at their lowest ever, with an interest rate of 1.91%. Beat that Belgium!

tags: Belgium - Economic crisis - France - François Hollande - French press review - Gérard Depardieu - Press review - Rich - Socialist Party - Tax - UMP
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