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French press review 12 April 2014

President François Hollande’s shattered image of normalcy, next week’s Algerian presidential elections and a Papal apology for paedophilia in the Catholic church dominate Saturday’s front pages.

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Le Figaro reports that in a televised statement from the Vatican Friday, Pope Francis I reiterated that children are not Guinea pigs and rightfully need to have a father and a mother. He also qualified abortion as an abominable crime, and personally asked for forgiveness for the evil committed by paedophile priests.

According to Le Figaro the head of the Catholic Church also took advantage of the media opportunity to denounce "gender theory", gay marriage and alleged manipulation taking place in schools. France seemingly appeared the target of the Pontiff’s angry remarks in the wake of the government’s so-called marriage for all reform.

With France’s newly elected mayors taking their oath of office, Aujourd’hui en France zooms in on 10 cities taken over by the far right Front National (FN) party. Amid fears of a radical knock over, the paper reports that at least one FN mayor has brought down the European flag. It notes that others have moved to allay fears of mass retrenchments at their city hall concentrating their attention on dealing with the priorities of their electoral manifesto such as security.

Le Monde says that French President François Hollande has definitely ruined the "Mr. Normal" image he aspired to project when he first came to office 22 months ago. According to the paper this is evident in all the decisions he has taken since his Socialist party suffered a devastating defeat in local elections. For the paper, the hurdles of his presidency have forced him to make hard choices.

Le Monde
cites the appointment of Manuel Valls, a man he didn’t trust as his Prime Minister, the handpicking of the new government and the firing the Socialist party chief, all described by the newspaper as clear proof of his anxiety to reaffirm his pre-eminence. Le Monde believes the severity of the economic crisis and the staggering nose dive in the polls forced him to re-concentrate all powers in his hands, becoming exactly the “hyper president” he criticised when his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy was in office.

Libération took a ride through Algeria as the country prepares for presidential elections on 17 April. The paper exposes the ramshackle system in place and a vicious mechanism being implemented to re-elect Abdelaziz Bouteflika described by the paper as Algeria’s dead man walking.

Aujourd' hui en France is monitoring today’s early vote in France with 815,000 Algerian nations eligible to cast ballots. It observes that while everyone expects the vote to be rigged some French-based Algerians say they will vote for Bouteflika because of the terrorism threat facing the North African country.

And Le Monde has a disturbing account of how we are being manipulated by our computer. It reports that e-marketing experts are using new software capable of guessing our likes and dislikes to anticipate our intentions and positioning Big Brother as the salesman of tomorrow.

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