“Entente against Hollande”, announcesMonday's Der Spiegel, which reveals that the German Chancellor has agreed with several European partners not to receive the socialist candidate for the French presidency François Hollande. Italy’s Mario Monti, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy and Britain’s David Cameron are all part of this secret alliance, which Merkel has organised to defend her European policy. Hollande has announced his intention to renegotiate the fiscal compact recently signed in Brussels if he wins the election.

For Der Standard, this “bizarre conspiracy” is evidence of European conservative leaders awareness that their political dominance is on the verge of collapse. A harsh critic of Angela Merkel, the Viennese daily points out -

All of this is perfectly clear, and this initiative is bound to fail. The Chancellor could not devise a strategy to better assist Hollande. The French have grown weary of Sarkozy’s broken promises and obsequious gestures. And that is not to mention the overwhelming majority of voters who have no desire to see Berlin decide on the issue of their president.

The fact that Merkel is depending on support from Cameron (who regularly gives her the brush-off on the euro) and Rajoy (who has just announced a major increase in the Spanish deficit) shows how weak she has become. To deliberately ignore the next possible president of her most important partner country highlights a lack of political instinct the like of which has not been seen for decades.

In Paris, Libération notes that this development coincides with a poll which found that 41% of French voters consulted believe that Germany “is using the crisis to strengthen its economy on the back of other populations…” If François Hollande is elected, “we will have to begin by picking up the pieces”, notes the daily which cites political analyst Sabine von Oppeln. The latest news is all the more significant when considering that in 2007, two months before the last French presidential vote, Angela Merkel held an official meeting with socialist candidate Ségolène Royal, which was followed by a joint press conference and a handshake in front of the cameras.