News from 04/2017

30 April 2017

28 April 2017

Who will win the French presidential election on 7 May?

Ian Bremmer of risk consultancy Eurasia Group puts the chance of a Le Pen victory at 30%. "I feel that Macron is going to win but it's not a safe bet. It's significantly about turnout and there are externalities that are very plausible." One of those external factors, he believes, might be a terrorist attack on a greater scale than the murder of policeman Xavier Jugelé in central Paris three days before the first round. Or perhaps an outbreak of fake news


25 April 2017

Macron Victory

Commission president breaks protocol to join chorus of congratulations for pro-European centrist, who faces far-right Marine Le Pen in second round

The commission usually avoids commenting on ongoing national elections, but Margaritis Schinas later said circumstances had forced Juncker’s hand. He said the decision facing the French electorate “was a fundamental one”, between Macron, who represents pro-Europe values, and Le Pen, who “seeks its destruction”. “When the choice is set along these lines, for Jean Claude Juncker, who has spent 35 years of his life defending Europe’s values…Read

24 April 2017

Youngest president since Napoleon?

French voters have voted in the first round of a tight presidential election Emmanuel Macron to face Marine Le Pen in 7 May run-off, according to projections.

At 39, Emmanuel Macron would be the youngest president of the Republic of France since Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, AFP reports. Louis Napoleon was 40 when he came to power in 1848.

French President François Hollande spoke with Emmanuel Macron by phone to congratulate him for making it through to the run-off.




23 April 2017

The polling stations are open for the first round of 2017 French Election - Let the voting begin

Some 67,000 polling stations will open at 8 a.m., monitored by more than 50,000 police officers. 

"It is no secret that we will not be cheering madly should today's result produce a second round between Le Pen and Melenchon," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said, adding that the election posed a risk to the global economy.

   Both U.S. President Donald Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama have shown interest in the vote. Obama spoke with Macron over the phone on Thursday.


The Final Countdown

France goes to the polls today for the first round of the presidential election. Yes, today is the day in which the top two candidates will be decided.  It's been a brilliant campaign and the weather forecast looks good for voting.

There is substantial evidence that the French population overall  has a relatively high opinion of the EU and its institutions. Polling conducted after the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom backs this up: in a Paris-Match/iTELE poll in June of this year,…Read

20 April 2017

The House of Commons backed Theresa May’s call for a general election on June 8, 2017

MPs voted by 522 votes to 13 - with Labour and Lib Dem helping secure the two-thirds majority needed to bring forward the election from 2020.

Jeremy Corbyn said a Labour government would stop Mrs May from using Brexit to make the UK an "offshore tax haven". Speaking in Croydon on his first campaign stop, the Labour leader said if elected, he would raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour and increase spending on the NHS, social care and council housing.

Germany - Mays Big Risk

In Germany's…Read

18 April 2017

Emmanuel Macron: A president in waiting?

Few could have asked for a better start to a political career than the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.

The current frontrunner is a graduate of elite National School of Administration, which produces the country's top civil servants and counts among its alumni three French presidents.

Macron will be hoping to make it number four in May, and as things stand he looks best positioned to fend off the far-right candidacy of Marine Le Pen, whom he is predicted to beat easily in a second round runoff, if the polls are correct.


The frontrunners in France’s presidential election have staged rallies to win over undecided voters

Emmanuel Macron has promised to restore French optimism. The independent centrist was speaking to a crowd of around 20,000 people at the Bercy arena in Paris. As the leading candidates all stepped up their election campaigns over the Easter weekend. He said: "What has been proposed to the French in the last 20 years is not liberation or reconstruction, but a slow, unavowed acceptation of unemployment, state impotence and social breakdown.”

Meanwhile, Ms Le Pen’s bid to become France’s next president suffered today after a meeting in Paris was disrupted by anti-fascist…Read

17 April 2017

French General Election

A week before France's high-stakes presidential election, the four top candidates began a final push to woo undecided voters who will determine the outcome of the tight race between the hard left, centre, right and far right.

On April 23rd, the French go to the polls in the most unpredictable vote in the country's post-war history to choose two candidates from a field of 11 who will go through to a run-off two weeks later.

Opinion polls show one in three voters still undecided about who to back after a campaign characterised by scandals…Read

Victory for Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sunday’s Referendum

The “yes” campaign won 1.25 million more votes than the “no” campaign and with only about 600,000 votes still to be counted this means the changes have been approved,

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the country's prime minister have declared victory in Sunday's referendum designed to hand Erdogan sweeping powers.

Those who support the reforms believe they will kick-start a lethargic economy and stabilize a nation dealing with the resurgence of a 30-year conflict with militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). But opponents argue the proposals will lead to…Read

16 April 2017

Voting has started in Turkey

Turkish citizens in six European countries have started to vote in a referendum, the campaign for which has caused an international dispute. Voters are choosing whether to move Turkey from a parliamentary republic to a presidential one, boosting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.  This should not be allowed to happen, but if it does, disasterous consequences will follow.


Britain no longer pragmatic

Two 'leave the EU' campaigners whom we rarely hear from these days are Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

€60bn Payment before trade deals can be discussed

The European commission said earlier this month that talks about a potential trade deal would occur only once “sufficient progress” had been made on Britain’s €60bn divorce bill and the position of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens on the continent.

The European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Agency employ about 1,000 people, many of them…Read

15 April 2017

Turkey Referendum: Parlimentary System could be replaced by a System of Authoritarianism

There are just two days to go until Turkey goes to the polls in a referendum that could give sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  He wants to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with an executive presidency.

Erdogan’s critics fear a further drift into authoritarianism under a leader they regard as bent on eroding modern Turkey’s democracy and secular foundations.

The most important argument against authoritarianism politics is Mr Erdogan himself. Since the failed coup, he has been governing under a state of emergency that demonstrates…Read

14 April 2017

The Turkey Referendum - a dictatorship in the making

A referendum on vast new powers for the president hangs in the balance despite his comprehensive crackdown on dissent.

Should this amendment be approved on 16 April, Erdoğan will assume all parliamentary powers, including the ability to suspend parliament. He will rule over the council that appoints prosecutors and judges, which means total control over the judiciary. In other words, he wants to remove any hope of Turkey being a secular democracy, instead transforming it into a religion-based dictatorship.

A no vote could rein in his unchecked rise. A yes result…Read

13 April 2017

Turkey referendum - Sunday 16th April 2017

Istanbul (CNN)Turkish voters will cast their ballots on Sunday in a referendum that could radically alter the way the country is governed.

If Turkey backs the referendum, the country's parliamentary system will turn into a presidential one, effectively consolidating the power of its legislative bodies into one executive branch with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as its primary executor.

Significantly, it would also allow Erdogan -- who served as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014 before becoming President -- to stay in office until 2029. Those opposing the vote say the proposed constitutional changes give carte blanche…Read

12 April 2017

Cliche East vs West paradigms need to yield to the notion of art beyond borders

What is an exhibition of Picasso and Giacometti doing in fine arts museum in Doha, Qatar – an Arab capital – at a time when Syrian children are gassed to death and millions of Arabs are forced into mass exodus from their homelands? Article by Hamid Dabashi.


10 April 2017

Turkeys Referendum that seeks to empower presidency.

Istanbul, Turkey - On Sunday, April 16, Turkish voters will head to the polls to cast their vote in a milestone referendum that will determine how their country will be governed in the future. The constitutional amendments proposed by the referendum would empower Turkey's presidential office by setting up an executive presidential system.


UK foreign secretary - Boris Johnson

Russian officials have launched a scathing attack on the UK over Boris Johnson’s decision to cancel an upcoming trip to Moscow due to increased tensions about Syria, threatening to bring relations to a new low. The foreign secretary faced criticism at home and abroad on Sunday for postponing the visit, prompting his allies to say critics had put “polls and politics above sorting out a civil war”. With the repercussions continuing from last week’s chemical weapons attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhun and a retaliatory US strike on a Syrian government…Read

9 April 2017

U.S Missile Strike in Syria

Samer N Abboud is an Assistant Professor of International Studies at Arcadia University, Pennsylvania. In a short response to the recent U.S missile attack in Syria he says that that he believes the real reason was to whip up patriotism at home. He goes on to point out that: “Trump's presidency has grown increasingly unpopular, wrought by internal disarray, federal investigations, allegations of corruption and a stunning incompetence in international affairs. As we remember from the Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama presidencies, a quick, targeted strike against a hapless target in some far-off land…Read

8 April 2017

Was Bashar al-Assad responsible for the nerve agent, sarin attack

In an article by Emma Graham Harrison published in the Guardian newspaper on 7th April it is argued that Bashar al-Assad did have convincing reasons to use sarin in an attack on Khan Sheikhun town on Tuesday 4th April.  Joshua Landis, a long-time Syrian observer and director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said chemical weapons could be attractive to a leader running low on military alternatives. “I think Assad and his generals want to win the war but have a depleted and exhausted army,”  …Read

6 April 2017

Emmanuel Macron is forecast to win the May 7 runoff with 62 percent to 38 percent for Le Pen.

French centrist Emmanuel Macron's lead in France's presidential election has narrowed following a televised debate though he is still on course to win, an Elabe poll for BFM TV showed on Wednesday.

Conservative Francois Fillon, whose campaign had struggled as he fought nepotism allegations, regained some momentum though not enough to make it into the runoff. His score rose to 19 percent in the first round from 18 percent last week.


5 April 2017

Chemical attack’ in Syria draws international outrage

UN to investigate potential war crimes after dozens were killed in Idlib attack US says 'cannot be ignored'.

A suspected chemical attack in Syria has drawn international condemnation, with the United States, France and Britain all pointing the finger at President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

At least 58 people, including 11 children, were killed in the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on Tuesday, doctors and a monitor said.

The United Nations said it would investigate the bombing raid as a possible war crime, and an emergency Security Council meeting…Read

3 April 2017

North Korea: Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program

U.S. President Donald Trump held out the possibility on Sunday 2/4/17 of using trade as a lever to secure Chinese cooperation against North Korea and suggested Washington might deal with Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs on its own if need be. The comments, in an interview published on Sunday by the Financial Times, appeared designed to pressure Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of his visit to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida this week.

"China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won&rsquo…Read

2 April 2017

Brexit: Game On

John Pienaar has a flutter on the frooties in his round-up of events in Westminster in a week when the UK triggered Article 50, nine months after the referendum, which put the UK on the road to leaving the EU.