This week, we witnessed the first formal battle in the French Parliament, with the conservative UMP party putting forward a motion of no-confidence against the Socialist government. It had no chance of passing, but it allowed each camp to lay out competing arguments on how best to get the country back on its feet.
Will Nicolas Sarkozy stage a comeback in French politics? The former president is keeping quiet, but others are talking for him, including one of his party's top leaders. Also this week, after the surprise resignation of the Pope, the French president's reaction has sparked controversy. This as the relationship between the Socialists and the Church is already being tested by the vote on a bill legalising same-sex marriage and adoption.
What has changed since France elected its first Socialist president in nearly a quarter of a century? The government has pledged an unprecedented 30 billion euros in belt-tightening, but it'll take a lot more than that to dent the deficit. Meanwhile, unemployment has continued to rise while growth has remained anaemic. Has politics in this country really changed in the nine months since election day?
On the menu today: our top story of 2012: the first Socialist elected president in nearly a quarter century. François Hollande ousting incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.The honeymoon didn't last long though for Hollande and his government whose popularity has plummeted steadily since inauguration day back in May. It may be cold comfort for the Socialists but Sarkozy's succession has torn the opposition UMP between supporters of Jean-François Copé and François Fillon.
The French village of Bugarach is the place to be if you believe that the world will end on December 21st - we take a look. Meanwhile, in politics, the hatchet seems to have been buried between UMP rivals Fillon and Copé. Finally, we put on our ballet shoes on to follow Paris's "little rats".
IN THE FRENCH PAPERS, 18/12/12: Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France focuses on how struggling households are coping this winter. No less than 600,000 families who are having difficulty paying their bills face gas and electricity cuts. Meanwhile, in Le Figaro, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders says Belgium's arms are open to tax exiles. And Christian paper La Croix explores the burning topic of euthanasia.
UMP rivals François Fillon and Jean-François Copé (pictured) officially agreed Monday on the date for a fresh leadership vote next September, in a bid to heal the bruising divide within France’s right-wing opposition party.
On the menu today, the UMP saga continues. It's still Copé versus Fillon, but it's now happening behind closed doors after two weeks of very public onslaught. Meanwhile, the government is shaking as its Green Party ministers are fed up with a series of environmentally-unfriendly decisions, and as its budget minister is under fire for an alleged hidden bank account in Switzerland.