It’s a sunny day but the temperatures have plummeted well below freezing. As Parisians scurry about trying to keep warm, the kiosque is heating up with electoral battles.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s endorsement of French President Nicolas Sarkozy covers the front page of Le Figaro. Sarkozy’s attempts to present himself as the only candidate with the necessary experience to confront international problems is no doubt helped by Merkel’s statement that she supports him “on all levels.” Will the French follow the Chancellor’s support with their votes? Will they buy the idea of “Merkozy” at all? We’ll see.
Le Monde features the “match dans le match” taking place in the fringes of French politics. Marine Le Pen of the far right Front National has been duking it out with Jean-Luc Melenchon of the leftist Front de gauche. Each candidate is aggressively courting the French working classes. While both of their candidacies condemn the financial system, argue for France’s exit from NATO and push for an increase in the minimum wage, they have radically different views on Europe. Melenchon wants to create a vast European development fund while Le Pen promises to quit the euro altogether. The whole debate looks like it will remain a sideshow, however. Le Monde shows that President Sarkozy and the Socialist Party’s François Hollande are well ahead of the pack and the ultimate choice will be only between the two of them.
The top international story, meanwhile, is the ongoing crisis in Syria with Le Fig focusing on the growing presence of Russian forces on the ground and Le Monde on the Chinese blogosphere’s outrage over Beijing’s refusal to condemn the Syrian regime in the Security Council. “Abandoned by the whole world” reads a two-page spread in Libération on the recent bombardments in the city of Homs.
“Greece: Europe is losing its patience,” warns the front page of the business paper Les Echos following on the joint press conference Monday by Sarkozy and Merkel. The dynamic duo, with the support of the rest of the European Union, issued an ultimatum to Athens: if Greeks refuse the austerity measures attached to the 130 billion euro bailout package the money wont be released. Lets hope they’re listening.
— Clara Zabludowsky
(Photograph of a brave crocus defying the frozen ground at sunset this afternoon in the Parc Monceau, Paris, France)