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What the weeklies said 6 May 2018

rfi English, May 6

A look back at the first 12 months of Emmanuel Macron's presidency; how powerful is prime minister Edouard Philippe; how many French government ministers can you name; how bad is business and media tycoon Vincent Bolloré?

L'Express casts a cold eye on the first year of the Macron presidency.

The best word they can come up with to describe the presidential style is "acrobatic".

The magazine then analyses Macron's language, especially his favourite words and expressions, to reveal a man who is either the prophet who will lead the French people out of the desert or a trickster who is good at identifying problems but not great at fixing them.

The presidential key expressions, in case you're wondering, are "do", "I take responsibility," "transformation" and the climbing term "cordée" which means something like "team cohesion when you're all tied together and don't have any choice anyway".

Who is the power before the throne?

Le Point gives the front-page honours to Macron's prime minister, Edouard Philippe, asking if he might not turn out to be the real power behind the throne.

It's a joke, of course, but it does serve as an eye-catching pretext for a review of how this refugee from the right has managed to establish himself as one of the more credible elements in an administration totally dominated by the president.

Somebody is not doing a good job

The extent to which the boss has hogged the limelight is underlined by a report in weekly satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné.

There we learn that the vast majority of the members of the Macron government remain practically unknown as they approach the end of their first year in office.

The health minister, for example, is Agnès Buzyn. In a recent poll, half of those questioned said they didn't know her well enough to express an opinion about her. But that didn't stop one-third of respondents from being sure she was doing a bad job.

Similarly, Elisabeth Borne, the wonderfully named transport minister ("borne" is a milestone on French roadsides). Forty-six percent of those polled had never heard of her, but 38 percent were convinced she was making a mess of things. Whoever she is!

More ballast for the Bolloré boy

Marianne enjoys throwing a few weighty objects into the already sinking reputation of French business and media tycoon, Vincent Bolloré, he who owns the Canal+ TV operation and is accused of various accommodations with the law in Africa.

The man has been doing business in French west Africa for three decades and so he has obviously shaken a few hands with blood on them. But so, for that matter, have a succession of French presidents.

Bolloré has recently spent 48 hours under police interrogation, like a recent French president, so now he's fair game.

He is suspected of having cheated to obtain control of port facilities in Togo and in Guinea. And he may have benefitted from a certain amount of looking-the-other-way by major French political figures. The case is being investigated.

French supermarket chain offers food on credit

The French Casino group of supermarkets, having noticed that clients were spending an average of 10 percent less at the end of the month than at the start, has come up with a humanitarian solution to the problem of surviving until the next pay cheque.

Casino will now allow clients to run up a debt of 20 euros for food, which they can pay back when the salary finally arrives. If you need to spend 50 euros to make ends meet, you are given three months in which to pay it back.

Against the accusation that they are simply encouraging consumerism and debt, Casino have said, no, they are committed to accompanying their clients through all of life's difficulties.

As proof of that generosity, Casino point out that the credit is free. Until you fail to make a payment, that is! Then it, and you, cease to be free.

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