Article published the Sunday 23 December 2012 - Latest update : Sunday 23 December 2012

French weekly magazines review

By William Niba

The end-of-the-world-which-wasn't and a good deal of political analysis as François Hollande's first calendar year draws to a close, both in the latest French weeklies....

“Time comes to an end from time to time”, says Le Canard Enchaîné, as it looks forward to the prophesized “end of the world” on Friday 21 December 2012.

This was the 183rd apocalypse to be announced since the fall of the Roman Empire, writes the satirical journal. According to the weekly, the number of survivalists who took it seriously is no joking matter.

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A survey by the polling agency Ipsos carried out for Reuters News Agency in 21 countries, found out that 14 percent of over 16,000 adults quizzed are convinced that the world will end during their life time. A full 10 percent of French believe the Maya calendar truly marked the end of the world, according to the research.

For Le Canard Enchaîné, it has indeed been “no joking matter”, as the “non superstitious” turned Apocalypse Day into a marketing opportunity for “doomsday business” and new products.

Cosmetics giant Axe made 21 December the launching date of its new perfume “Final Edition”, while the Novotel Hotel chain rolled out an “end of the world” offer of cheap luxury suites for first-come clients. The offer was complete with “survival kits” and “apocalypse cocktails” and Novotel invited clients to bring along “sexy partners” with gas masks so that they can “replenish the planet”.

Le Canard Enchaîné identifies two men it claims have certainly “survived” the apocalypse: French movie star Gérard Depardieu who fled into fiscal exile in Belgium leaving behind a 67 million-euro home and President François Hollande who looks forward to a New Year devoid of the “misfiring that characterized his first 6 months in office”.

Le Point takes up President Hollande’s recent admission of “errors” committed by his government and his refusal to be destabilized by his massive slide down the opinion poll ladder polls. According to Le Point, Hollande believes this disaffection is the price he has to pay for worsening unemployment and the poor state of the economy.

Le Point
notes that his honeymoon period was brief and notes that even the left-wing press is highly critical, just like the Greens and Communists who have teamed up with the opposition in the Senate to reject the 2013 Finance Bill.

Le Nouvel Observateur
is probably one of the publications Le Point is talking about. The left-leaning weekly poses a series of unanswered questions in a stinging editorial targeting President Hollande. Who really is this unknown man in the Elysée? Who governs us really?

According to the magazine, as the year comes to an end, many French citizens are still looking for clues about the personality, the projects and the philosophy of those who have ruled the country over the past seven months. For Le Nouvel Observateur, it is clear, not just to the opposition, that they are not just incompetent but ill-prepared for the job.

L’Express publishes an evaluation report it carried out on the work of the top 15 members of the French government. Labour minister Michel Sapin shares first spot with his interior counterpart Manuel Valls, Foreign minister Laurent Fabius is languishing at the bottom of the ranking alongside education minister Vincent Peillon and ecology minister Delphine Batho.

Le Canard Enchaîné comments on friction between France and the United States, over Syria, Palestine and Mali.  The satrical weekly says Washington didn’t like what it sees as France’s cavalier attitude, especially its unilateral recognition of the Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people.

According to the weekly, President Obama’s team hasn’t digested France’s vote that helped Palestine secure UN observer status. A foreign ministry official told Le Canard that a spat has broken out between the two allies, citing a recent incident where America's envoy to the UN, Susan Rice, dismissed the just-approved French-drafted resolution on military intervention in Mali as 'crap'.

Talking about wars, Le Point tips opposition MP Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, to profit from the “crazy war”, fought by Jean-Francois Copé and François Fillon over the presidency of the UMP. The journal says she is deep at work elaborating her project.

According to Le Point she recently told ex-Sarkozy adviser Henri Guaino that Fillon and Copé are “too old fashioned” and neither one nor the other is likely to stand as flag-bearer for the UMP come the 2017 Presidential elections.

tags: Apocalypse - Barack Obama - Belgium - End of the world - France - François Hollande - French press review - Gérard Depardieu - Palestinian territories - Paris - Press review - Syria - UMP
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