France: The Swiss account weakening François Hollande

3 April 2013
Presseurop
Libération, Le Monde, Le Figaro, Mediapart

Libération, 3 April 2013

"Contemptible," proclaims French daily Libération following the admission by former Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac that he does have a bank account in Switzerland. On April 2, after months of denials, including to the National Assembly, Cahuzac admitted having a foreign bank account containing €600,000. He has been charged with money laundering and tax fraud.

Jérôme Cahuzac resigned on March 19 following the opening of a judicial investigation into the bank account, revealed in December 2012 by internet news site Mediapart. Mediapart's story about Cahuzac's confession, headlined: "An admission, so what?" raises new issues. Despite Cahuzac's U-turn, several questions remain –

How much money has really gone through the hidden accounts of the former minister? Where did the funds originate? [...] Another politically explosive question is: What exactly did the presidency and the prime minister's office know after Mediapart revelations first emerged?

For Libération, this affair is worse than shameful, it is –

disgraceful. With his cover-up and his lies, Jérôme Cahuzac did much more than sully his honour. He has stigmatised his work, discredited the political discourse and raised doubts as to the authority of the Head of State [...]Jérôme Cahuzac has undoubtedly delivered the fatal blow to the "Unimpeachable Republic" promised by François Hollande.

For the right-of-centre news media, even if President Hollande condemned "an unforgivable moral error," daily Le Figaro forecasts the president will suffer "devastating effects" from this affair –

A notable proportion of the French already think he took liberties with the truth during the campaign. And today's opinion polls show that they are not listening to him when he talks about his goals for 2013 and beyond. That unemployment trends will reverse by the end of the year? Who can believe that, and does he even believe it himself? At this pace, the day will come when some will accuse him of systematically lying to the French.

Another French daily, Le Monde sees the Cahuzac affair as "a crisis of democracy" –

To the economic and social crisis in which France is already plunged, to a political climate which recently took a very toxic turn, has now been added a profound crisis of democracy in that the most basic covenant between the people and their leaders has been broken. The responsibility of the president of the Republic today is to respond to that crisis.