Domestic issues dominate as election fever gathers pace. Libération, the left-wing daily, leads on apparent failures in policing while Le Figaro, right-wing, gives prominence to Nicolas Sarkozy's defence of France's nuclear industry. That's the focus for this look at the French papers, Friday 18th November 2011.
The left-wing daily Libération leads with an investigation into policing by a sociologist who spent 15 months with a crime squad in the Paris region. The writer, Didier Fassin, recorded omnipresent racism, along with violence and inefficiency. The name of the squad - the BAC, or Anti-Crime Brigade - is also the name the high school diploma. Hence, the headline “BAC - Cops under examination” (BAC - les flics mis en examen). Libération, in its editorial, says the investigation is like opening a “black box” of the Republic, just as you’d look at the data inside the black box of a plane. Police officers though, interviewed in the paper, reject the book’s findings, saying they are not at all representative. Libération, with this coverage, is writing as France’s presidential election campaign gathers pace. It is is arguing that policing is not, after all, the strong point of this right-wing government.
Le Figaro, meanwhile, has a report - coincidence or not - on Interior Minister Claude Guéant who is attending the opening of an exhibition about policing in Bobigny, a tough Paris suburb, today. His message, the paper says, is: “it’s not the hooligans who roam with impunity pressuring people, but the police who are pressuring the hooligans”.
Le Figaro’s front-page editorial is devoted to the possible next president of France François Hollande who, the paper argues, has “a psychological barrier”. “It’s as if he is looking at himself being a candidate rather than actually being one”. The contrast couldn’t be more striking with a piece on the inside pages showing Nicolas Sarkozy in decision-making mode. He’s issued a swift condemnation of an agreement by the Greens and Socialists for a partial wind-down of nuclear power. The two left-wing parties have been wrangling about the nuclear power issue all week and have settled their differences. Sarkozy says he “won’t let this key part of France’s industrial heritage be squandered”.
The free paper 20 Minutes reports that the Green candidate for the presidency, Eva Joly, has had to take a step back after the tough talks with the Socialists. The paper headlines that she “denies that she is having second thoughts about her candidacy”. Joly has cancelled one TV interview and won’t be at a Green Party meeting this weekend.