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Category: European Politics

From wannabe to president: how Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen to win the French election

Written by Paul Smith.

After a tense and often antagonistic election campaign, Emmanuel Macron is to become the next president of France. The result is, of course, in all sorts of ways extraordinary. In a little over a year, the 39-year-old former finance minister has gone from being a wannabe to the future tenant of the Elysée Palace. He struck out alone to form his own political movement and while much of the froth surrounding the election has focused on his opponent, the enormity of his achievement needs to be acknowledged and cannot be underestimated.

Even before the first round, all the polls had Macron pegged to win the second round 60/40. But then, between the rounds, Le Pen seemed to be nibbling away at Macron’s lead – not by much, but by enough to cause some butterflies among her opponents. Macron appeared lacklustre at a crucial time. Fears of a low turnout and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s refusal to formally endorse Macron also threw a number of unknowns into the mix.

What’s Left of the Left?

Written by Simon Toubeau. 

The paradox of the contemporary European left is that while many of the burning issues defining political debates- growing economic inequality, employment precariousness, the sustainability of health spending or pension entitlements- are traditional left-wing concerns, Social Democratic parties seem incapable of credibly addressing them either in office or in opposition.

So, what’s left of the left? The origins of the paradox stems from the mis-match in the architecture of authority between democracy and capitalism, rendering the notion of democratic capitalism ever more hollow. This tension has compounded broader demographic and economic transformations to divide the electoral base of the left. In France, the UK, the USA and elsewhere- there is a split between those in favour of regulated openness and those in favour of nationalist closure.

Macron and Le Pen to face off for French presidency – but she won’t be pleased with first round result

Written by Paul Smith.

In the end, the polls were right. Emmanuel Macron will go into the second round of the French presidential election against Marine Le Pen. For a while it seemed as though a dead heat were on the cards but, in the end, Macron took first place, with nearly 24%, ahead of Le Pen at just under 22%.

Republican candidate François Fillon and far-left contender Jean-Luc Mélenchon followed close behind, with Socialist Benoît Hamon trailing badly.

Emmanuel Macron faces a really big problem if he becomes French president

Written by Ariane Bogain.

Currently riding high in the polls, Emmanuel Macron, the self-styled “beyond left and right” candidate for the French election, has been tipped to become the next president in May.

But if he does, will he actually run the country? This question might sound odd but the nuances of the French political system put Macron in a spot of bother. The president derives their power from the support of a majority in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly. Macron was a minister for the Socialist Party government but quit in 2016 to form his own political movement. Now he doesn’t even have a party, let alone a majority.

Brexit: Britain’s Identity as Europe’s Empty Space

Written by Oliver Daddow.

In 2009, visitors to the Justus Lipsius Building in Brussels, home to the Council of Ministers, were greeted in the expansive entry foyer by a huge 3-D art installation called Entropa (see Image 1). It was commissioned by the Czech government to mark its Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Scottish and UK governments should beware the Ides of March

Written by Simon Toubeau and Jo Murkens.

Whispers of betrayal have been circulating since January, when the Prime Minister delivered her strident speech at Lancaster House. But the daggers were finally drawn a fortnight ago- poignantly timed and served with a Shakespearean twist. And, as it came to pass during the fall of Caesar, both camps feel betrayed.

Theresa May- soaring in popularity, victorious in driving the Brexit bill and on the cusp of triggering Article 50- was suddenly betrayed by nationalist grumbling in Scotland. Indyref 2.0. is on the table. The plot lead by the rebellious Tartan faction has grown in fervour with every broken promise. The promise of continued access to the Single Market and of working with the devolved administrations. 

Benoît Hamon wins French socialist nomination as party sees a reassuring bump in the polls

Written by Paul Smith.

Benoît Hamon has been officially named as the Socialist Party’s candidate for the 2017 presidential election. His path to victory has appeared fairly secure for a while. He recently secured 36% of the vote in the first round before this latest vote, finishing ahead of his main rival, the former prime minister Manuel Valls on 32%. But the real clincher was the declaration by Arnaud Montebourg (17%) that he would support Hamon in the second round. In the end, Hamon took 58.7% of the vote to Valls’ 41.3%.

Behind the bravado: why Theresa May has to play hardball on hard Brexit

Written by Simon Toubeau.

Even prior to the formal start of what is likely to be a long tournament, the players are taking their seats at the poker table. They’re puffing their chests, turning stone-faced, sternly glaring at each other in the eye. They’re looking at the hand they’ve been dealt and deciding what strategy to pursue. Winning does not depend on having a strong hand but rather on persuading your opponent that you do.

And so, as Theresa May delivered the final few sentences of her speech on her plan for Brexit, the thinly veiled threat was issued: “No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”

Italy says “No” to Renzi and she says it loudly

Written by Annalisa Cappellini

The Italian Constitution seems to be the biggest winner of the referendum on constitutional reforms that took place yesterday in Italy: in an era of political disengagement and low electoral participation 70% of Italian voters went to the polling station to have their say on its proposed modifications; over 19 million people (60%) said “no” to such changes. They said “no” to a reform the seemed to be both too rushed and badly written.

Matteo Renzi, on the contrary, appears to be biggest loser of this referendum, that he himself decided to turn into a vote on his government. He took a gamble, like Cameron did with the Brexit vote; Renzi took this gamble when all the political circumstances were in his favour but then the wind changed and he got wiped out, like many others political leaders.

Andropov’s ghost: language and society under global governance

Written by Mladen Pupavac and Vanessa Pupavac.

Frankly, we don’t know the society in which we live and work enough.

So General Secretary Yury Andropov warned the Soviet Communist Party Plenum in June 1983. Andropov’s speech was made a few months before one of us started a degree in Slavonic languages, and a year before the other began military service in the Yugoslav People’s Army. Andropov is now been quoted in the Russian media about the US political establishment, confronting not knowing the society in which they live.

The rude awakening of the US political establishment to the election of Donald Trump on 8 November is not the first political earthquake this year. There was similar political shock across the European political establishment at the British referendum result in June to leave the European Union.