Article published the Wednesday 12 December 2012 - Latest update : Wednesday 12 December 2012

French press review 12 December 2012

By Michael Fitzpatrick

The government takes up the fight against poverty ... but is it doing enough and how will it be financed? There's pessimism over Egypt. And the Strauss-Kahn affair is sealed with a cheque.

Both right-wing Le Figaro and left-leaning Libération look at poverty in France. The two points of view are, not too surprisingly, different.

Libé's headline reads simply "SOS Poverty", judging yesterday's proposals by Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as a break with the Sarkozy years but noting that they are still criticised by some organisations as too timid.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

Le Figaro notes that yesterday's promises will cost the state two and a half billion euros over the next four years. But the right-wing paper worries that the source of those euros has been left very vague . . . the plan will be financed by savings here and cutbacks there, bringing the total cost of buudgetary balance to 60 billion euros by 2017.

Business daily Les Echos offers a breakdown of the savings here, cutbacks there already put in force by the Socialist government.

The verdict is mixed. When you compare the additional tax take from businesses since May with the new tax relief accorded over the same period, nothing much has changed. The two balance out perfectly - with the subtle difference that small and medium businesses have tended to profit most from the tax relief while the major players have suffered most from the increases.

So far, so socialist. And that's exactly what François Hollande promised on his way to the presidential palace. Better still, the chief beneficiaries of the tax credit to encourage competition are businesses which employ lots of poorly qualified workers.

But that's the end of the good news.

When you add together budgetary tax increases and proposed hikes in sales tax, due to come into effect in 2014, you come up with a grand total of 20 billion euros in extra tax bills for French households. I wonder if Gérard Depardieu would rent me a room in his new house in tax-liberal Belgium?

Egypt makes the front pages of both Catholic La Croix and the tabloid Aujourd'hui en France.

Dossier: The Strauss-Kahn affair rocks France, IMF

The La Croix headline states the rather obvious, telling us that "Confusion returns to Egypt".

Aujourd'hui en France is pessimistic, announcing the death of the hopes associated with the popular revolution which got rid of president-dictator Hosni Mubarack.

According to the daily, Tuesday's rival protests by supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi were closely watched by the army, still the ultimate source of power in a country sharply divided along political, religious and social lines.

The current wave of unrest was provoked by Morsi's own extension of presidential powers and a proposed new constitution which has angered many who fought for a new Egypt in the 2011 revolution. If Morsi fails to control it, then the army could step in to restore the status quo.

Between a military dictatorship and religious extremism, there's not much space for reasoned democratic debate.

Le Monde looks back at the sordid close to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair in a New York courtroom earlier this week.

Says the centrist paper, money has been used to bury the truth, justice has been bought off. A disgraceful episode thus ends in disgrace with the supposed victim accepting a confidential sum of money from her supposed aggressor.

Whatever really happened between the supposed parties, lives and careers have been destroyed, an entire judicial system has been brought into question, the world has changed. And it all ends with a cheque for an undisclosed sum.

tags: Dominique Strauss-Kahn - Economic crisis - Egypt - France - François Hollande - French press review - Mohamed Morsi - Nafissatou Diallo - Poverty - Press review - Tax
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