French press review 18 April 2014

Valls faces his first revolt in Socialist ranks. Bouteflika looks set for a fourth term in office but will he well enough to take the oath? Russia signs a deal on Ukraine. There are tributes to Garcia Marquez and warnings not to speed on French roads. And who’s in charge at PSG?

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French shenanigans to start and Le Figaro absolutely delighted watching “Socialist mutineers” who are defying Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

According to the right-wing newspaper, infuriated for not being duly consulted about the government’s latest economic measures, 11 Socialist lawmakers sent a fiery letter to the premier Thursday denouncing the ”dangerous” plan.

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Le Figaro says the rebels are absolutely bent on amending the Valls plan by setting a 35-billion-euro ceiling for public spending cuts instead of the 50 billion euros proposed by the government by 2017 under the much-touted solidarity and responsibility pacts.

Aujourd’hui en France reports that about 100 Socialist MPs sympathise with the missive calling for a gesture towards struggling French families. According to the paper, most of the lawmakers feel humiliated having learnt about the measures on television. The newspaper doubts Valls’s ability to secure parliamentary support for his package as some of the rebels have stated their intention to vote against the text in its current state. Aujourd’hui notes however that some centrist opposition MPs could come to his rescue to stop leftists from derailing the rightward turn taken by the government.

Catholic daily La Croix warns that the standoff over the government’s austerity policies could cause a fracture within the Socialist Party, which is much deeper than expected if the grievances of the party’s left are not duly addressed.

With the results of Thursday’s presidential elections in Algeria expected this Friday, Le Figaro expects incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika to secure a fourth five-year term, despite cries of widespread fraud by his opponents.

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Some 26,000 police officers and gendarmes were deployed in the country to ensure security during the vote, according to the paper.

Aujourd’hui en France reports that Bouteflika cast his ballot sitting in a wheelchair, noting that Algerians consider the outcome a foregone conclusion.

La Croix points out that Bouteflika had not been seen in public since May 2012. According to the Catholic newspaper, the stroke he suffered casts serious doubts on his ability to take the oath of office if he is finally reelected.

Russia is trying to reduce tensions over the situation in Ukraine, writes Libération, as it analyses the terms of the accord signed in Geneva Thursday by Moscow and the United States, the European Union and Kiev. The deal provides for the disarming of all illegal armed groups, the evacuation of all government buildings occupied in Ukraine and the opening of national dialogue.
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Aujourd’hui en France reports that prior to signing of the deal, thousands of loyalists of the regime in Kiev demonstrated for the very first time since Donetsk fell into the hands of the pro-Russian insurgents. For Le Figaro, the deal inked in Geneva appears to be a last-ditch opportunity to defuse the Ukrainian time-bomb.

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Libération pays glowing tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel-winning Colombian author who died Thursday at the age of 87. The exotic legends of his homeland inspired him to write profusely, telling epic stories of love, family and dictatorship in Latin America. – the greatest of his works 100 Years of Solitude, which was translated into 35 languages with 30 million copies sold worldwide.

Aujourd’hui en France appeals to millions of holidaymakers hitting the roads for the Easter holiday this week not to forget the radars. It warns that 5,272 cameras will be waiting to flash drivers who won’t take their foot off the accelerator, on top of exceptional measures put in place by traffic police to curb road accidents during the holidays.

And looming questions about who is really in charge at French football giant Paris Saint German. The sport daily L’Equipe raises the issue on its front page, pointing out that two consecutive defeats - at Chelsea in the Champions League and Lyon in the Premier League - coupled with uncertainty over the future of manager Laurent Blanc, have altered the atmosphere at PSG, leaving room for skimming and influence peddling of all sorts on the eve of their French League Cup final against Lyon on Saturday.

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