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French press review 13 February 2013

France's public finances receive a rough review. Should God follow the Pope's example? Is the vote for gay marriage a historic step forward? And how is PSG placed for 6 March?

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Conservative Le Figaro leads with the economy.

“France will not maintain its three per cent deficit target,” announces the paper. France’s official auditors say that the government will have to review its growth objectives for 2013. And the auditing body also demands that the government further reduces public spending.

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In its editorial the paper says that, despite the fact that the head of the auditors is a Socialist, he insists year after year on “shock treatment”. While French taxpayers’ pockets are being emptied, they are still waiting to see how the government intends to cut public spending, says the author.

On its front page Aujourd’hui en France also criticises the waste of public finances. In the dedicated section, the daily gives some mind-boggling figures from the auditors' report:

  • 150 million euros spent on two high-speed train stations only 20 km away from each other;
  • A theatre costing 41 million euros still incomplete in one of France’s middle-sized towns;
  • 150,000 public servants hired in the last six years by regional governments;
  • 70 million euros mismanaged by the council of a town with 25,000 inhabitants.

In its editorial the daily calls on French regional governments to start managing their budgets properly. France is at risk of falling into the same categories as its less fortunate European neighbours.

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For the second day in a row, left-leaning Libération and Christian La Croix devote their front pages to Pope Benedict’s resignation.

“God, resign!”, exclaims Libération. The paper notes that despite the fact that the size of its flock and the number of priests continue to diminish, the church is seeking to expand its influence and impose its reactionary views on public debate.

Libération uses the pretext of Pope Benedict’s resignation to explore the surge in influence that the faiths are trying to exert on the public life.

“While the Church is drained of blood and Islam is still a minority religion in France, the religions have never tried so hard to impose themselves in public debate”.it says.

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An editorial regrets that part of the French Church is very determined to defend the most reactionary values, fighting against gay marriage and against abortion rights. Yesterday’s yes vote for same-sex marriage was a “comforting response to that”, concludes the paper

On the rise of Islamic extremism in France, Liberation's in-depth report notes that since 2000 the debate on Islam has poisoned public life, largely because of 200,000 highly visible hardliners.

Communist L’Humanité hails the approval of the same-sex marriage bill in the French parliament.

“The law is passed, long live the newly weds!” says the paper. It calls the vote a major advance for French society. Communist Party MP Marie-Georges Buffet compares yesterday’s vote to the abolition of the death penalty in 1981 or the vote to legalise abortion in 1975.

Sports daily L’Equipe devotes its front page to yesterday’s victory of PSG football club in the Champions League quarter-finals against Valencia.

It calls the match “a beautiful win with an acid taste”. In two minutes, says the paper, the club lost its two-goal advantage over Valencia and lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But, it concludes, this should not overshadow the fact that the Parisian club is in a very comfortable position for the next match on 6 March.

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