A “battered” leader and a “botched” reshuffle. Those are among some of the criticisms in the international coverage of the French president’s cabinet changes over the weekend. While Nicolas Sarkozy usually dominates media attention, interest today centres on François Fillon, newly-reappointed as Prime Minister. That’s the focus in today’s international press review: MONDAY, 15TH NOVEMBER 2010
The International Herald Tribune leads with the headline “Premier remains at French helm”. It says the changes amount to a shift to the right, with the President concerned about the growing level of support for the far-right National Front as he lays the ground for re-election in 2012.
The Guardian International headlines “Battered Sarkozy leans to the right as cabinet reshuffle kicks off re-election campaign”. It says that, despite months of drama about the reshuffle, Sarkozy took the risk of appearing weak by keeping Fillon on. The polls seem to be telling a large part of the story. The Guardian quotes one of the latest for President Sarkozy which gives the French leader a 35 per cent approval rating while Fillon has 48 per cent in the same poll. The Guardian profiles Fillon with the heading: « France’s Quiet Man ». The paper says France’s premier is “ruthlessly ambitious” and could emerge as a right-wing contender for the presidency in 2017.
Still with the UK press, The Independent headlines: « Botched cabinet reshuffle gives Sarkozy’s rivals new strength ». It says that Sarkozy has managed to “overturn the tradition in French politics where the Prime Minister becomes unpopular while the president remains aloof”. It says Fillon is: “Velvet on the outside, steel on the inside” and the “living antithesis” of the President. The Independent’s Paris correspondent John Lichfield says Fillon had become “unsackable”.
Looking at countries directly bordering France, the Belgian paper Le Soir concludes the reshuffle was a game of musical chairs - to the right. Switzerland’s Tribune de Geneve, meanwhile, headlines « Fillon gagnant et Sarkozy perdant ». That translates as « Fillon the winner, Sarkozy the loser ». It says that’s because Fillon negotiated his terms and conditions to stay in the job.
The main headlines in the world press concern Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released on Saturday after seven years of house arrest. In all, she has been detained for 15 years since winning elections in Burma in 1990.
The Bangkok Post reports in its piece - “Syu Kyi set for political encore” –reports that she urged thousands of her supporters to stand up for their rights. And quotes her telling them: “You have to stand up for what is right … a one-woman show is a not a democracy”. Asked what message she might have for Burma’s military dictator Than Shwe her reply was : “Let’s meet and talk”.
The South China Morning Post leads with the headline: “Suu Kyi urges followers to unite for fight”. It reports on her huge welcome from supporters at the HQ of her disbanded National League for Democracy. One of the paper’s stories is entitled: “Ray of hope for 2,200 behind bars”. It looks at the plight of some of the dissidents still in jail saying that Suu Kyi’s release may prompt some reconsideration by the junta about keeping them locked up. In a sidebar to that story, the paper quotes the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch Elaine Pearson saying: “Aung San Suu Kyi’s release is nothing but a deeply cynical ploy by the dictatorship to distract from Burma’s illegitimate elections”.
And, to end, Hamburger Morgenpost reports on the German writer Charlotte Roche who has offered to spend the night with President Christian Wulff if he votes against government plans to extend the lifetime of Germany's nuclear reactors. In interviews to the German press, the British-born writer has pointed out to the German president that she is “tattooed”. The headline there: “Sex-Nacht für Atomausstieg”.