‘What a spectacle!’ French press revels in Hollande’s crisis

Prime Minister Manuel Valls tendered his government’s resignation to the president

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“What a spectacle!” screamed the front page of Le Parisien daily, encapsulating the sense of crisis engulfing the French government after Monday’s shock resignation of the government and impending reshuffle.

Several French dailies carried an image of French President Francois Hollande looking bedraggled and drenched under a torrential downpour as he delivered a speech to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris.

Dailies Le Figaro (right) and Liberation (left) -- on opposite ends of the political spectrum -- found a rare harmony in their front pages: “Regime crisis.”

Le Figaro said the consequences of this political crisis were “incalculable” while Liberation said that Hollande was “more and more isolated.”

Leading daily Le Monde said: “The political return from holiday was already looking difficult for the president and the prime minister. In a few hours, it became explosive.”

It described the cabinet reshuffle, expected to be unveiled later on Tuesday, as “the last chance for the president to save his five-year term” as Hollande faces record-low unpopularity at 17 percent and record-high unemployment.

In a move that caught France completely by surprise on Monday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls tendered his government’s resignation to the president, who immediately tasked him with forming a new one.

The move came after tensions with the left flank of his ruling Socialist Party over austerity measures burst into the open, as the economy minister openly criticised the government’s economic direction.

But the minister, Arnaud Montebourg, and Education Minister Benoit Hamon, who resigned in solidarity, found some support from left-wing daily L’Humanite.

“Francois Hollande and Manuel Valls quickly and brutally punished Arnaud Montebourg and Benoit Hamon, who finally said aloud what the majority of left-wing voters think: austerity is leading the country to the wall,” the paper said in an editorial.