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In the press

'Schizo Sarko's very personal dilemma'

France's right-wing paper Le Figaro is overjoyed at the landslide for the Spanish right in general elections, while the left-wing Libération skips the historic Socialist defeat across the border to concentrate on President Nicolas Sarkozy who, it argues, faces "a very personal dilemma". That's the focus for this look at what the French papers are saying, Monday 21st November 2011.

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“A tidal wave of support to the right” (“Raz de marée à droite”), headlines Le Figaro. It leads on the landslide win for the Popular Party in the Spanish general election saying PP leader Mariano Rahoy will steer through austerity in a bid to restore Madrid’s standing with the markets. The editorial is euphoric, arguing this election win could be a turning point in the whole eurozone crisis. It argues that if Spain manages to get on the right track with its economy, it could show the way to other economies in southern Europe.

The Paris paper Le Parisien and its national edition Aujourd’hui-en-France devotes their front page to three former European leaders waving goodbye: Spain’s José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and Greece’s George Papandreou. It says there have been changes in government in seven European countries linked to this current crisis, including Denmark which is not even in the eurozone.

European Affairs specialist Jean-Dominique Giuliani tells the paper that the shift to the right in Europe began before this crisis. What’s new now, he argues, is what he calls an “explosion of egos”. As in Italy, where the Northern League - more than ever - rankles at paying for the South. Or Spain, where Barcelona is at odds with the rest of the country. Or simply in rich countries, where people don’t want to help poorer countries out.

Libération did not put the historic Socialist defeat in Spain on the front page. Instead, France’s main left-wing daily is leading with its enemy number one, President Nicolas Sarkozy. It headlines “Schizo Sarko”. The “schizo” reference is to a decision it argues he has to make in the coming weeks on whether to move to the centre ground in French politics. A poll published here in France on Sunday showed he has gained five points in his popularity rating, with his rival François Hollande losing nine points. That poll puts them about neck-and-neck. Libération’s editorial - headlined “Posture” - wonders whether he will take a distance or instead throw himself into the ring of campaigning politics. The paper argues that this is a “very personal dilemma” for the  pesident as his body will want to leap in but his head might think it is "time to rise above" the fray.

Still with party politics, far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen billed herself over the weekend as a president who would “re-industrialise” France at the head of “un état fort” (“a strong state”.) Le Figaro says Le Pen made a first mention of immigration 50 minutes into her speech when she said it “must stop being the reserve army for capital”. The far-right leader could well prove to be the bug bear of the two main parties as they vie for power.

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