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French press review 2 March 2013

Will Hollande stick to his political guns? Is a top Aqim man really dead? Are southern Europeans heading north? And what do the cardinals get up to in conclave.

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Left-wing Libération’s front page is dedicated to François Hollande, taking a look at the upcoming challenges the French president will have to face in 2013, as his popularity continues to plummet in opinion polls.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Despite rising unemployment, stuttering growth and problems in tackling a growing public deficit, the French Socialist government is sticking to its initial programmes and reform plans, says Libération.

But the paper wonders whether Hollande will be able to stay the course when the time comes to make difficult decisions concerning such important questions as retirement and taxes.

Right-wing daily Le Figaro focuses on the conflict in Mali, leading with the French army’s involvement in the country and its fight against Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim).

Headlining with “France, on the front line against Al-Qaida”, the newspaper leads with the death of Abou Zeid, Aqim’s North African branch leader, which was announced by Chadian president Idriss Déby on Friday.

Abou Zeid’s death has yet to be confirmed by French authorities but special forces in northern Mali pursue their efforts, as the lives of French hostages are still in danger, explains Le Figaro.

The weekend edition of Le Monde also reports on Mali and the French army’s fight against Aqim but it’s an article about a new immigration wave from southern Europe that makes the headlines.

According to Le Monde, high unemployment within the eurozone has led to emigration from poorer countries towards northern European countries, especially Germany.

Workers and young graduates from Spain, Greece and more massively from Poland and Romania are moving to Germany in the hope of finding jobs in what Le Monde calls “a refuge for unemployment-stricken Europe”.

Dossier: War in Mali

Just a few days after Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the Catholic La Croix gives a detailed explanation of the upcoming conclave, from the procession into the Sistine Chapel to the announcement of the newly elected Pontiff’s name.

Based on accounts from cardinals, as no journalist has ever witnessed a conclave, La Croix explains every proceeding leading to the election, along with portraits of the key actors and a detailed map of Saint Peter’s basilica, where the pontifical election will take place.

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