Europe

French press respect Hollande's silence

French president Francois Hollande speaks during a press conference to present his 2014 policy plans at the Elysee presidential palace on January 14, 2014, in Paris, France. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Hollande refused to discuss his alleged affair during the press conference

While many international media have grumbled at French President Francois Hollande's failure to address his alleged affair, the French press largely praised him for tackling the economy.

A "revolution", a "turning point", and a "liberated" Francois Hollande - these are some of the epithets used by French papers after the president's news conference on Tuesday.

His support for supply-side economics wins broad praise, although there is some scepticism about whether the president will be able to deliver on his pledges.

Only a small number of dailies highlight Mr Hollande's refusal to be drawn on reports of his alleged affair with an actress.

'New chapter'

The centre-left daily Le Monde feels the Socialist president has shed his image as a "reformist" to become a "revolutionary" who wants to succeed where his centre-right predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy failed.

His proposals for a deal with employers and deep spending cuts will be difficult to swallow for some on the left, the paper's editorial writer Francoise Fressoz concedes in a blog post. But "it cannot be ruled out that taking the risk will pay off because France... seems to be ripe for the revolution," she adds.

"Hollande liberated", the left-leaning Liberation declares on its front page. The president's affirmation that he is a social democrat and his emphasis on supply-side policies mean that "yesterday's intervention opens a new chapter in his five-year term" with a "true presidential programme", says an editorial by Fabrice Rousselot.

There is also praise for Mr Hollande's "sometimes martial language" in the centre-right Le Figaro. But an editorial by Paul-Henri du Limbert entitled "Sleight of hand" warns that "the appearance of austerity is not the same as austerity".

Michel Urvoy in the best-selling regional daily Ouest-France saw a "more presidential" Hollande than on previous occasions, and the business daily Les Echos judges that the president "finally uttered the words people expected from him".

'High-wire act'

Some of the strongest criticism of the president comes from Paule Masson in L'Humanite, a paper with links to the Communist Party. She denounces the new policies as "more austerity-oriented, more anti-social and more pro-free-market than ever" and declares that Mr Hollande will henceforth be "the president of the Medef", the French employers' association.

A few headlines also express disquiet about the president's silence on his alleged affair.

The regional daily Courrier Picard regrets that "we'll have to wait to find out who the first lady is", under the front-page headline "Hollande talks about everything but his private life".

Under the headline "A high-wire act", Aujourd'hui en France agrees that the president was "very discreet on his personal situation".

And the regional title Nice Matin runs a front-page headline which quotes Mr Hollande's remark that his news conference is "neither the place nor the time" to talk about his personal life.

Meanwhile, Herve Favre in La Voix du Nord believes that "public opinion will quickly turn this page of 'gossip' if the new 'fight against unemployment' yields results".

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