Category: France
What to Expect From France After Sunday’s Presidential Run-Off
| May 6, 2017 | 1:46 pm | Analysis, France, political struggle | No comments
New official posters for the candidates for the 2017 French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron (L), head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and Marine Le Pen (R), French National Front (FN) political party leader, are displayed in Fontaines-sur-Saone, near Lyon, France, April 30, 2017

What to Expect From France After Sunday’s Presidential Run-Off

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Macron, Le Pen Heading to 2nd Round of French Presidential Election (80)
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The world’s attention is glued to France as the country is set to choose its next president on Sunday from the two candidates, right-wing Marine Le Pen and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, whose political programs strongly differ on every issue.

PARIS (Sputnik) Candidates political programs strongly differ on every issue, including relations with Russia and the United States, the future of France in the European Union, immigration and the fight against terrorism.Speaking of her opponent, Le Pen often used the term “ideal antipode,” which illustrates the differences in the election programs of the candidates.

RUSSIA AND THE UNITED STATES

Le Pen has repeatedly stated that she plans to normalize relations with Russia in order for Europe to be able to “look into the bright future.” She called the sanctions against Russia “incoherent” and recognized Crimea’s reunification with Russia, calling it “natural.”

Le Pen believes that France needs to reach balance in relations with the United States and Russia, noting that there is no reason for Paris to wage a “cold war” against Moscow.

She considers cooperation in the fight against terrorism as one of the main points of relations with Russia, and believes that the two countries should exchange intelligence on the issue.

Former Economy Minister Macron also believes that France needs to conduct dialogue with Russia, but his position is harsher. According to Macron, France’s strong ties with the United States as a strategic partner must remain a priority, including the cooperation in the fight against terrorism. The candidate considers Russia a “working partner” on “regional issues,” in particular on the Ukrainian and Syrian crises. Macron also supports the idea of maintaining the sanctions regime against Russia, linking it with the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

UNIONS AND ALLIANCES

One of the key points of Le Pen’s election campaign is France’s possible exit from the European Union. The candidate softened her rhetoric on the issue a bit before the run-off, stating that she intends to replace the European Union with a “European alliance of free and sovereign states,” initiating in case of her victory negotiations on a profound reform of the “totalitarian” union. If the negotiations fail, Le Pen promised to hold a referendum on Frexit.

However, the candidate noted that she was not against the united Europe, but stressed that the European project dodged from its aims. She also spoke in favor of leaving the Schengen area, bringing back national borders and leaving the NATO military command.

Macron, in his turn, is a firm supporter of European integration and considers defending the interests of the European Union and its citizens his priority, especially after Brexit. However, ahead of the second round he stated that the European Union has to be reformed or will face perspectives of Frexit, as the French were full of “anger” at the Union.

As for the single currency, Le Pen, if elected, plans to hold a national referendum on leaving the eurozone, and called euro “dead” because of the differences in the countries’ competitiveness. She also promised to return the franc for everyday operations within two years after her election, only keeping the euro for corporate payments and international operations. Macron lashed out at the idea.

The first round of the election took place on April 23, with Macron receiving 24.01 percent of votes and Le Pen finishing second with 21.3 percent.

According to the latest Ifop opinion poll, Macron in expected to win the run-off with 63 percent of the votes, while Le Pen is set to receive support of 37 percent of the voters.

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Macron condemns ‘massive’ hacking attack as documents leaked
| May 5, 2017 | 9:00 pm | Analysis, France, political struggle | No comments

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39827244

Macron condemns ‘massive’ hacking attack as documents leaked

Emmanuel MacronImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Campaigning has ended ahead of Sunday’s vote

The campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron says it has been the target of a “massive hacking attack” after a trove of documents was released online.

The campaign said that genuine files were mixed up with fake ones in order to confuse people.

It said that it was clear the hackers wanted to undermine Mr Macron ahead of Sunday’s second round vote.

The centrist will face off against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

The documents were leaked on a file sharing website late on Friday, as the official presidential campaigning period drew to a close.

The Macron camp condemned the leak minutes before the midnight deadline (22:00 GMT).

Candidates and the media now face restrictions until the polls close on Sunday evening, meaning Mr Macron cannot issue any more statements.

Opinion polls had indicated the former economy minister carried a lead of 20 percentage points or more over Ms Le Pen.

What was released?

About nine gigabytes of data were posted online by an anonymous user.

The details are unclear so far, but Mr Macron’s En Marche movement said internal campaign documents, including emails and financial data, had been taken in an “act of massive, co-ordinated hacking”.

“The leaked files were obtained several weeks ago by hacking personal and professional email accounts of several officials of the movement,” it said in a statement.

The campaign said the documents showed only legitimate campaign activities.

France’s election authorities have warned media outlets against reporting on the contents of the leaked documents because of the restrictions now in place.

Who might be responsible?

That too remains unclear. The Macron camp has not blamed any specific party but said the hack clearly aimed to damage it and undermine French democracy,

It compared it to the leak of Democratic Party emails in last year’s US presidential election that was blamed on Russian hackers.

Wikileaks, which published those emails, posted a link to the Macron documents on Twitter but implied it was not responsible.

Last month security experts from the company Trend Micro said that Russian hackers were targeting Mr Macron’s campaign.

Russia has denied that it is behind attacks aimed at Mr Macron.

On Thursday, the centrist candidate filed a lawsuit over online rumours that he had a secret bank account in the Caribbean.

Mr Macron called the allegations “fake news and lies” and said some of the sites spreading them were “linked to Russian interests”.

What else happened on the final day of campaigning?

Separate security alerts in and around Paris marred Friday’s final scramble by the candidates to court voters.

A suspected radical Islamist possessing weapons and a pledge of allegiance to IS was arrested north of the capital.

And Greenpeace activists scaled the Eiffel Tower to unfurl a banner, sparking an emergency police meeting.

Image copyright Reuters

Image caption The Greenpeace stunt caught police off guard

What is at stake on Sunday?

France’s voters have rejected the two big political parties – the Socialists and the Republicans – that have governed for decades,

Voters will be making a decision on France’s future direction and on its place at the heart of the European Union.

If they opt for liberal Emmanuel Macron, they will be backing a candidate who seeks EU reform as well as deeper European integration, in the form of a eurozone budget and eurozone finance ministers.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionEmmanuel Macron’s unconventional route to political stardom in France.

If instead they choose far-right Marine Le Pen she promises quite the opposite. She wants a Europe of nations to replace the EU.

“I give myself six months to negotiate with the EU the return of sovereignty. Then it will be the French who decide,” she tweeted.

The assumption is that she would fail and a referendum would take place initially on France’s membership of the euro.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionHow Marine Le Pen’s past has shaped who she is today

After the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of US President Donald Trump, France is the latest country to deal a blow to politics as usual.

What are the battleground issues?

One of the overriding issues facing French voters is unemployment, which stands at almost 10% and is the eighth highest among the 28 EU member states. One in four under-25s is unemployed.

The French economy has made a slow recovery from the 2008 financial crisis and all the leading candidates say deep changes are needed.

Economic challenges facing next president

Marine Le Pen wants the pension age cut to 60 and to “renationalise French debt”, which she argues is largely held by foreigners.

Emmanuel Macron wants to cut 120,000 public-sector jobs, reduce public spending by €60bn (£50bn; $65bn), plough billions into investment and reduce unemployment to below 7%.

What the two candidates want

What about security?

The election is taking place amid a state of emergency, and the first round took place three days after a policeman was shot dead on the Champs Elysées in the heart of Paris.

More than 230 people have died in terror attacks since January 2015 and officials fear more of the hundreds of young French Muslims who travelled to Syria and Iraq may return to commit new atrocities.

Intelligence services believe attackers are deliberately pursuing a Le Pen victory, says the BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris – because that could tip the country into chaos.

The former FN leader wants to suspend the EU’s open-border agreement on France’s frontiers and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services.

What happens after Sunday?

Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen came top of the 11 candidates in total who participated in the first round of voting on 23 April.

While the outcome of Sunday’s second round should be clear that evening, the results will be officially proclaimed by France’s constitutional council on Thursday, 11 May.

Sunday, 14 May, marks the end of outgoing President François Hollande’s term, and is the latest possible date for the inauguration and official transfer of power to his successor.


BBC coverage

You can follow the French election on the BBC News website. Click here for all our latest stories.

On the day of the election, we will be running a live page bringing together the latest news, video and analysis.

On TV, you can watch a BBC World News Election Special, from 18:30 BST (17:30 GMT / 19:30 local time in France) on Sunday, which will be broadcast on BBC News in the UK and on BBC World News internationally, with Christian Fraser presenting from Paris.

For radio, BBC World Service will broadcast a special extended edition of Newshour from Paris at 18:00 GMT on Sunday.

Beyond the Discourse, Macron and Le Pen’s Programs for France

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Beyond-the-Discourse-Macron-and-Le-Pens-Programs-for-France-20170504-0034.html

Beyond the Discourse, Macron and Le Pen’s Programs for France

  • Marine Le Pen (L) and Emmanuel Macron (R).

    Marine Le Pen (L) and Emmanuel Macron (R). | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 May 2017  

The media has painted the French election as historical, because two “outsiders” will be facing each other on Sunday.

Beyond the left and right traditional party system?

Both candidates, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, officially refuse labels in a bid to appear detached from the unpopular traditional center-left and center-right parties that have ruled over the French Fifth Republic. Both candidates, however, are clearly identifiable on the French political spectrum.

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Le Pen has been involved in politics since she was born, following the steps of her infamous father, the racist and xenophobic Jean-Marie. During her campaign, opponents recalled that she was the heiress of the far-right dynasty, since she grew up in the family castle in Saint-Cloud and inherited important real estate. Anti-capitalist Philippe Poutou touched on a sensitive point during a televised pre-election debate when he accused Le Pen of branding herself as “anti-establishment” while her party was being probed for alleged misuse of public funds. Poutou also mentioned that Le Pen used her parliamentary immunity to protect herself from criminal prosecution.

But Marine Le Pen has tried hard to appear both as an outsider and as the leader of an anti-establishment party while softening her National Front party’s racist and homophobic image. She distanced herself from radical and violent groups in the party, including her own father. She also opted for a more subtle form of Islamophobia when she stigmatized Muslims in the name of French secularism and slammed Muslim garb in the name of women’s rights. In October 2013, Le Pen threatened to press charges against anyone labeling her party as “extreme right.” She also suspended her position as the head of the party as soon as she began campaigning for the run-off vote in order to appear like a potential president for all French citizens.

As for Macron, a 39-year-old former investment banker at Rothschild, he officially started politics three years ago, as socialist President Francois Hollande’s economic adviser and Economy Minister.

Because Hollande has become the least popular French President in modern history, Macron made huge efforts to appear as a complete outsider. He had to play along a fine line between “neither…either” to a dangerous point, making him sound completely tautological and empty.

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During his campaign, his empty discourse was often ridiculed on social media — he once misquoted one of France’s most popular hip hop bands about social inequalities in a bid to appear close to the working class.

Even the French mainstream media, which largely contributed to building his image as France’s future president since he quit the government and created his own party “En Marche” one year ago, started worrying that the “Macron bubble” superficially built around his candidacy could explode before the end of the elections.

Their programs certainly don’t defend the interests of “the people.”

Macron’s neoliberal agenda remains obvious despite the candidate’s efforts to stick to a very vague program. He was the mastermind behind most of Hollande’s most contested policies, including layoffs, a labor reform pushed by the business sector, and unprecedentedly reducing French workers’ rights.


His program includes cutting corporate tax from 33 to 25 percent. The 35-hour legal workweek would remain but negotiation of real work hours would be left to the company level. He set a target of 60 billion euros for savings on public spending. Macron also sees savings of 15 billion euros in public health spending due to greater efficiency. Macron also embraced France’s current paranoia about security and public order. He promised to build 15,000 extra prison places, to hire 10,000 police, raise defense budget to two percent of GDP, from just under 1.8 percent in 2016.

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France’s National Front and Millennials: When Insecurity and Fear Meet Social Media

As for Le Pen, she radically shifted from her father’s pro-European Union, neoliberal discourse. Instead she has moved towards a stance officially defending public services, workers, and state interventionism. This tactic copies most of her direct rival’s programs, such as the progressive political movement Left Front, now called the Unbowed France, led by Jean-Luc Melenchon.

In practice, however, Le Pen’s party has not done much for the working class. For instance, in October 2016, 18 National Front European MPs, including Le Pen, voted against a legislation meant to avoid social dumping. This is a phenomenon that occurs when a company fires workers before relocating in a country where the workforce is cheaper.

One of her most feared measures, even within her supporter base, is the “Frexit” and the return to the Franc currency. When she started campaigning for the run-off vote, she tried to reassure potential voters, saying she would hold a referendum on EU membership at the end of six months. She stated France would leave if she does not manage to radically change the block from the inside.

She would also boost security, despite the crucial issue of police brutality and police killings, especially in France’s suburbs. She plans to hire 15,000 police and build jails to make room for another 40,000 inmates. She would also automatically expel foreigners who have been convicted and make it impossible for illegal migrants to legalize their stay in France. Her program intends to curb migration to a net 10,000 people per year. Certain rights now available to all residents, including free education, would become reserved to French citizens only.

The polls show Macron as France’s next President, but Le Pen still has a chance. 

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What the Forgotten of the French Republic Think Of the Election

Opinion polls show Macron holding a hefty lead of 59 percent to 41 percent ahead of Sunday’s vote, with around a third of voters set to abstain.

According to a Kantar Sofres Onepoint survey, 47 percent of people who will vote for Le Pen on May 7 will do so not to support her, but in a bid to block Macron’s victory, while 58 percent of Macron’s voters will do so in order to block Le Pen, without wanting Macron as France’s next President.

Another survey, published by Ifop, found that half of Melenchon’s supporters — almost 20 percent of the total voters in the first round — will support Macron on Sunday, 37 won’t vote, and 13 percent will vote for Le Pen. In the case of conservative candidate Francois Fillon’s supporters — also about 20 percent in the first round — 44 percent will support Le Pen, 26 percent won’t go to the polling stations, and 30 percent will vote for Le Pen.

Macron Campaign Says Massive Email Leaks Meant To Undermine It
| May 5, 2017 | 8:16 pm | Analysis, France, political struggle, Russia | No comments

WORLDPOST

05/05/2017 06:25 pm ET | Updated 1 hour ago
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/macron-email-leak_us_590cfa09e4b0e7021e97e5ae?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Macron Campaign Says Massive Email Leaks Meant To Undermine It

The French presidential frontrunner’s campaign team said it had been hit by a massive and coordinated hacking operation.

French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron’s campaign team said it had been the victim of a massive and coordinated hacking operation which led to the leaking of hundreds of its internal documents just hours before the end of the official campaign.

A large trove of emails from the campaign was posted online late on Friday, 1-1/2 days before voters go to the polls to choose the country’s next president in a run-off against far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Some nine gigabytes of data were posted by a user called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a document-sharing site that allows anonymous posting. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for posting the data or if any of them were genuine.

In a statement, Macron’s political movement En Marche! (Onwards!) confirmed that it had been hacked.

“The En Marche! Movement has been the victim of a massive and co-ordinated hack this evening which has given rise to the diffusion on social media of various internal information,” the statement said.

An interior ministry official declined to comment, citing French rules which forbid any commentary liable to influence an election, and which took effect at midnight French time on Friday (2200 GMT).

Comments about the email dump began to appear on Friday evening just hours before the official ban on campaigning began. The ban is due to stay in place until the last polling stations close on Sunday at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).

Opinion polls show independent centrist Macron is set to beat National Front candidate Le Pen in Sunday’s second round of voting in what is seen to be France’s most important election in decades.

Former economy minister Macron’s team has already complained about attempts to hack it systems during a fraught campaign, blaming Russian interests in part for the cyber attacks.

On April 26, the team said it had been the target of a series of attempts to steal email credentials since January, but that the perpetrators had so far failed to compromise any campaign data.

In February the Kremlin denied that it was behind any such attacks, even though his camp renewed the charges against Russian media and a hackers’ group operating in Ukraine.

In its statement on Friday, En Marche! said that the documents released online only showed the normal functioning of a presidential campaign, but that authentic documents had been mixed on social media with fake ones to sow “doubt and misinformation”.

“The seriousness of this event is certain and we shall not tolerate that the vital interests of democracy be put at risk,” it added.

(Reporting by Eric Auchard in Frankfurt and Michel Rose and Bate Felix in Paris; Writing by Andrew Callus; Editing by Sandra Maler)