Newspapers in France pick over the policy statement delivered to parliament on Wednesday by the new French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.
There is little enthusiasm for his domestic agenda, with the politician once admired for his charisma being likened by two papers to a "solicitor" or a "shopkeeper".
We were afraid there would be lyricism, but it was pure pragmatism. We were expecting flights of oratory, but he sounded almost like a solicitor. How far away the UN chamber - through which the world came to know Dominique de Villepin - now seems.
Business daily Les Echos
Will Villepin be more successful than his predecessor [Jean-Pierre Raffarin]? People are still just as cautious after his big speech... The man who thrilled the UN chamber has changed into a shopkeeper, because his policy is based mainly on a series of micro-measures to cut unemployment.
Regional daily Liberation-Champagne
After four defeats at the hands of the electorate and with 22 months to go before the presidential elections, Villepin has arrived too late. His opponents know this and are expecting him to fail. To have any hope of winning the mother of all battles, that of employment, luck is not enough. What is required is daring, imagination and ambition.
Left-of-centre daily Liberation
One would like to think that given the difficulties France is going through, the government's proposals... have a chance of putting the country back on track. But the path is a narrow one, the pitfalls are numerous, the deputies are jittery and the unions are in a fighting mood... Still, given this highly charged atmosphere, Dominique de Villepin made quite a good job of it.
Popular daily France Soir
On the shelves of the Villepin mini-market, there is something for everyone: employers and employees, young and old, students and apprentices, advocates of economic liberalism and disciples of Keynes, tenants and owners. All this points to a keen sense of the need to seek a subtle balance... And if he were to fail in his mission - something which nobody would wish for - it would be with the conviction of having tried everything.
Business daily La Tribune
Like the president, he reiterated that "France will keep to its European commitments". Does this mean that, on 15 and 16 June at the Brussels European summit, the two men are about to ignore the mandate which has just been given to them by the voters? There are grounds for fearing this. Dominique de Villepin has achieved the tour de force of not saying a single word to the MPs about the intentions of the president and his government during the summit. The deputies, who gave him a vote of confidence, have signed a blank cheque on this issue which is tantamount to a real denial of democracy.
Communist daily L'Humanite
By undertaking to restore people's confidence within 100 days, which is the basic remedy to a humanly unbearable world-weariness, Villepin refrained from waxing lyrical about France's role in a Europe which remains its future. He limited himself to listing a number of new concrete measures on employment for young and not-so-young people, great job opportunities in small businesses, vocational training, equal opportunities and the fight against discrimination of all kinds.
Regional daily Nord Eclair
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