POLITICS & POLICY
The French presidential elections are under the spotlight. On Sunday, the leaders of the political movement En Marche! (EN) And of the Front National (FN) party, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, qualified for the run-off of the French elections, obtaining respectively 23,7% and 21,5% of votes. The date of the second round is set for May 7.
The success of Macron was saluted by a majority of European leaders and parties. On Sunday evening, the two traditional mainstream parties, the Socialist party (PS) and the Republican party, expressed their support for the moderate leader of EN. In particular, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that the results demonstrated the end of a “political story and cycle”. Should Macron eventually become the President, Valls also announced to be ready to help him gain a much needed Parliamentary majority in the following national elections. Nevertheless, the PS seems to be internally split on the matter. Meanwhile, the leader of the leftist movement “La France Insoumise”, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, did not express any voting intention for the run-off. Mélenchon’s lack of positioning has triggered harsh criticism from the PS. His stance is remarkable, given that even a majority of French trade unions back Macron.
For many a political analyst, the result of the first round marks a historical juncture because it is the first time, since the birth of the Fifth Republic, that neither the PS, nor the Gaullist centre-right have made the second round. However, Marine Le Pen, has already rounded on the so called “Republican front” (the coalition of centre-left, moderate and centre-right wing forces against the FN): “the Republican front option fails to recognize that a majority of French citizens does not endorse a coalition around Emmanuel Macron”, she said the day after the vote. Le Pen reframed the second round as a “referendum for or against the prospects of brutal globalization”.
Even in Brussels, the French elections are at the centre of political debates. On Monday, the Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici said that the second round of the elections represents a “referendum on Europe”. Indeed, the two candidates, embody “two different visions of Europe”, Moscovici said. “When there is a referendum on Europe, the Commission can’t stay silent”, he added. However, on Friday, the Deputy Chief Spokesperson of the Commission, Mina Andreeva, claimed that the EU would be able to withstand any result coming from the French elections.
Macron’s performance has been interpreted as a sign of hope and relief by leaders of other European countries. In Germany, representatives of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), as well as the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), greeted Sunday’s electoral outcome. Wolfgang Bosbach (CDU) defined the results as a “vote for Europe”. The SPD Chancellor Candidate, Martin Schulz welcomed the success of Macron, and endorsed the leader of EN for the second round.
On the other hand, across the Continent, radical leftist parties seem to be split over the matter. For instance, the Spanish political party Podemos has yet to express a clear preference between Macron and Le Pen. Similarly, in Germany, Die Linke struggles to fully back Macron, notwithstanding its aversion to the far-right candidate Le Pen. On the other hand, some minor parties of the Italian left have openly endorsed the leader of EN against what they see as the undemocratic candidate Le Pen.
In other news, developments on the far-right are making the headlines in the UK and Germany. Over the weekend, the German populist right-wing party, Alternative für Deutschland (AFD), held its national party gathering in Cologne. Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland were elected to lead the upcoming electoral campaign by a majority of party members. According to many analysts, the AFD is undergoing a shift towards the right, as Frauke Petry seems to be ever more marginalized within the party. Over the weekend, thousands of leftist activists tried to disrupt the party conference. Meanwhile, in Britain, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), relaunched a set of ten anti-Islam policies to be advocated in their campaign for the June 8 election. However, party leader Paul Nuttall has not yet confirmed whether he himself will stand for elections.
“Insufficient possibilities and encouragement for men to take leaves is reinforcing women’s roles as primary carers, with negative effects on female employment”.
Source: EurActiv, 24.04.2017
The Greek budget’s primary surplus in 2016.
Source: EurActiv, 21.04.2017
Photo Credits CC European Parliament
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