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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Journaux européens, entre amusement et agacement

by Alessandro Mantovani (Rome), Charlotte Noblet (Berlin), Rosa Moussaoui, Marie-José Sirach

European Newspapers Amused and Annoyed by Nicolas Sarkozy

Translated Friday 18 January 2008, by Emma Paulay

Press Review: Nicolas Sarkozy’s performance for the journalists inspired irony and sarcasm.

The morning after Nicolas Sarkozy’s press conference, the headlines in the Italian newspapers showed they had not forgotten the Berlusconi years : “The French have stopped poking fun at the Italians”, says Maria Laura Rodota in Il Corriere della Sera. “From now on, when they meet them, they talk about Carla Bruni, and comment on Sarkozy’s latest”. “We take turns. This time, they’ve got an embarrassing leader”. La Stampa jokes about the ring given to Carla, apparently identical to the one he gave Cecilia. “In love, recycling is not nice”, writes Stefania Miretti. She continues: “They say that Berlusconi used to give the same string of black pearls to the female supporters who visited his villa in Arcore. Now they are all MPs and they all have the same necklace”.

“The announcement of his marriage to Carla is the only real statement the President has made”, says the German daily Tageszeitung. “Sarkozy uses his private life as a political tool to avoid examining other issues”. “It’s serious with Carla”, is all the German media have retained from the President’s New Year speech. It is on the front covers of all the celebrity magazines. They go over everything with a fine-tooth comb: from the announcement of his divorce from Cecilia during the transport strikes to his trip to Egypt with Carla just after Colonel Kadhafi’s visit to Paris.

“A president in love” says the British newspaper, The Guardian, noting that the French are “irritated” by the couple’s media exposure because they have other worries: “empty wallets, rising food costs, rents and energy bills”. The newspaper feels that “nobody can see or feel the benefits of change” promised by Sarkozy. His “politics of civilisation”, devoid of any substance, “is a phrase left floating in mid air”. Philippe Marlière, senior lecturer in French politics at University College London airs his views for the newspaper. He sees “a growing public malaise over [Sarkozy’s] reforms” and feels that the president’s broad range of ideological references cannot disguise his firm anchoring within the French right-wing and his combination of “Orleanist and Bonapartist traditions”.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais headlines on the repeal of the 35 hour week, mentions the president’s flourishing gestures, underlines that “the reforms Sarkozy promised will take longer than planned” and says: “a brilliant speech announcing nothing new, in which he avoids mentioning the preoccupation of the French with their purchasing power.”

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