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The paper clip, 4 May 2012

Friday 4 May 2012

François Hollande is ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy in the race to become president of France on Sunday, with Le Figaro saying that polls put him at 52.5% to 53.5% of the vote. Sarkozy's hopes have been dented by the announcement by a beaten centre-right candidate, François Bayrou, that he will vote for Hollande, a Socialist.

The Greek papers are full of coverage of the parliamentary election campaign, which climaxes on Sunday (6 May). Kathmerini writes that the leader of the centre-right New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, yesterday toughened his language regarding illegal immigrants and right-wing parties and warned of "instability" if his party does not win the election. Te Nea also has extensive coverage.

The threat that European leaders might not attend football matches in Ukraine during the European Championships in June is alarming Poland, the co-host of the tournament. The Irish Times writes that Poland is now urging Ukraine to resolve the growing dispute over jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko before the tournament starts. Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza has a report. Criticism is growing in Germany of announcements by various governments that they will boycott the championship, writes Handelsblatt. The newspaper quotes German politicians warning that a political boycott would be counter-productive.

The UK's Daily Telegraph picks over a meeting of EU finance ministers on Wednesday at which the UK's finance minister, George Osborne, reportedly called bank-regulation plans “idiotic”.

Macedonia's authorities have arrested five ethnic-Albanian members of a suspected terrorist cell believed to be behind the killing of five men earlier this year, writes Vecer, published in Skopje. Two of the suspected killers are thought to have fled to neighbouring Kosovo and are now wanted by Interpol, the paper writes.

Peter Mandelson, a former European trade commissioner, will today call for a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU, writes the Financial Times.

The fate of Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese rights activist who sought refuge in the US embassy in Beijing before agreeing to be transferred to a Chinese hospital, is overshadowing talks between Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and the Chinese leadership, writes the New York Times. Chen has now asked to be allowed to leave China with his family on Clinton's plane, deepening the diplomatic embarrassment for both sides.

Nikolai Makarov, the chief of staff of Russia's armed forces, has threatened preventive strikes against the European missile shield should it be deployed, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes.

Ahead of the inauguration of Vladimir Puin as president of Russia on 7 May, the Czech daily Lidové noviny picks up an oddity of the Russian system: Putin will hand in his resignation as prime minister to Putin the president.

Greece's Kathimerini writes that the European Commission appears determined to annul the shareholders' agreement signed in 2008 between the Greek state and Deutsche Telekom regarding OTE telecom.

The UK's Guardian writes the poorest region of Spain, Extramadura, is suffering from 32% unemployment.

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