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“Hollande, pull yourself together. There’s a fire”, announces an alarmed Marianne, while the daily Libération alludes to the French President’s campaign slogan (“Le changement c’est maintenant” — Now is the time for change): “For Hollande, change is now urgent”. It is a conviction shared by much of the French press now that the socialist government, elected last May, has returned from the summer break.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has acknowledged the seriousness of the situation while insisting that he “will not be the prime minister of the austerity years.” His position is not an easy one to maintain, argues Le Figaro: in demanding efforts but refusing to employ the term austerity, the government “is involved in a high-wire act…”

For its part Libération wonders —

When the speed of circumstances and events is accelerating [...] when the pace of economic and social crisis is increasing at an alarming rate, what should be done? Should they adapt or play for time? [...] Last week’s mad schedule of meetings for the president, the prime minister and the government [...] is clear evidence that the concept of “a normal presidency” is unlikely to survive the new administration’s first political crisis.

The weekly L’Express, which provocatively headlines “Duped by Hollande”, proposes an inventory of all of those that will be disappointed by the new government: “François Hollande and his voters may be bound by a marriage of convenience, but not one that precludes positive feelings or bitterness” —

There are those who are already shouting foul… as a preventive measure. There are those who realise that the purity of promises is about to be sullied by a brush with reality. Finally, there are those who have good reason to complain: those who believed that François Hollande intended to renegotiate the fiscal compact [which is to be ratified by parliament in the autumn], and the vast contingent of taxpaying dupes who will now have to help the government balance its books. It will be increasingly difficult to claim that the burden will be confined the rich.