Tag: election

The Campaign for the Second Round of the French Presidential Election has Begun: What You Need to Know

 

 

April 27, 2017                          .

Rohin Ghosh

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Emmanuel Macron (left) and Marine Le Pen (right), the two candidates in the second round of the French presidential election.  Photo credit-Wikimedia Commons

On Sunday, April 23, France held the first round of its Presidential election.  The French election system includes a first round where many candidates from several parties compete for the top two spots.  In the second round, which will be held on May 7th, the two candidates which got the most votes in the first round go head to head and whichever candidate receives more votes becomes President of France.

The 2017 French election has seen both mainstream parties which have governed France since World War II pushed to the sidelines.  Neither of the candidates who have made it to the second round are members of the Socialist party or the Republican party, the two parties which have led France since the 1950s.

The Candidates who Made it to the Second Round:

Marine Le Pen, National Front (Far-Right Populist)

Marine Le Pen is the candidate from the National Front, a party which in the past has been unpopular due to its sometimes racist and anti-semitic rhetoric.  Marine Le Pen has tried to soften the party’s image by firing her father, Jean Marine Le Pen who often used anti-semitic language.  Nevertheless, the National Front’s message is still fairly extreme.  Le Pen calls for a complete shutdown on almost all immigration and has also expressed support for harshly anti-muslim policies.  She has at times used anti-immigrant and anti-muslim rhetoric which has worried many people in France and around the world.  Le Pen has also called for France’s withdrawal from the European Union and NATO.  If France does end up leaving the EU, the European Union will probably disintegrate considering France’s important role in the union.

 

Emmanuel Macron, En-Marche (Centrist)

Emmanuel Macron has gained traction recently and won the most votes in the election on Sunday.  Macron has fairly moderate policies and is, in general, pro-immigration and pro-European Union.  However, on several issues, Macron has also expressed progressive, ambitious policies such as his plan to wean France off of fossil fuels and promote environmental conservation among other positions.  These policies as well has his charismatic oratory often attract young voters.  Macron also favors a reform of France’s government provided healthcare system which will cut costs while also keeping coverage for all citizens.  He plans to do this by focussing more on preventative care.  Macron also supports giving public schools and universities more autonomy.   Emmanuel Macron is young (39) and considered a powerful orator by many.  He also speaks fluent english.  Interestingly though, Macron married his former high school teacher who is 24 years older than him.  At only 39, he already has 7 step grandchildren.

The Odds

Emmanuel Macron has been considered the frontrunner in the election so far (he got the most votes in the first round).   Macron currently leads Le Pen in the latest opinion polling, however recently polls have been narrowing.  Macron still leads Le Pen by about 20%.  If Emmanuel Macron is able to hold his lead with young voters and win the election, it will be a blow to right-wing populists in other European elections including the elections in Germany and Italy.  If Marine Le Pen wins, that will likely spell the demise of the European Union and French multiculturalism and be a strong boost for other right-wing populists around the world, especially in Germany and Italy.

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Most recent French 2nd round polls.

Photo credit: Telegraph.co.uk

Over the past few years, there have been two major political phenomena, a center-left populist movement which emphasizes progress and forward movement, and a right-wing, nativist, anti-immigration, “tough”  movement that strives for returning a country to a better time.  The left-wing, “forward” movement is seen in the US in Obama’s presidency and in Canada with the victory of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  In France, Emmanuel Macron’s candidacy is a manifestation of this center-left, progress minded ideology.  This is easy to spot through the name of his independent party, “En Marche” which translates to “Forward”.  On the other hand, Marine Le Pen embodies an entirely different political ideology.  Her ideology reflects a recent trend toward far-right, nativist politics which support the idea of returning France to better time with less immigrants.  This trend can also be seen in Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the US.   Ultimately, the French election will decide which of these ideologies will prevail and spread.

 

 

 

 

 

President-Elect Trump Finally Acknowledges that Russia Hacked the US Election

President-Elect Trump released a statement stating that he did, in fact, believe that Russia meddled in the American election process.  Reince Priebus, one of Trump’s closest aides and nominee for White House Chief of Staff, told Fox News that ” [Trump] accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia, so that’s not the issue.”

In December of 2016, the CIA released a report confirming suspicions that Russia was actively trying to support Trump in the election by hacking organizations connected to the Clinton campaign.  In response, some electors called for a briefing on Russian interference in the election before the electoral college voted.

The alleged involvement of Russia in the US election involves hacking Democratic party data and releasing degrading information about Hillary Clinton through wiki-leaks.  Russia also allegedly planted fake news which hurt Clinton’s public image.  There are also reports of Russia planting trolls on the internet to attempt to influence people to vote for Trump.

Until recently, President-elect Trump denied any involvement from Russia in the election.  He dismissed these charges as an attempt to de-legitimize his election victory.  Trump has been criticized for his praising of Russia and Russian president, Vladimir Putin.  Meanwhile, intelligence officials repeatedly stated that the allegations of Russian involvement were backed by sufficient evidence.  President Obama imposed new sanctions on Russia and stated that counter cyber attacks were possible.  Several senators from both parties have come out in support of tougher action against Russian cyber-attacks.

During the confirmation hearings of Gen. John Kelly for Homeland Security, Mike Pompeo for CIA director, Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State and James Mattis for Defense secretary, the issue of cyber security and Russian cyber attacks were discussed in great detail.  All the cabinet appointees have pledged to step up efforts to defend the US against future cyber warfare.

 

World Leaders’ Reaction to Trump

Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States of America.  A person who leaders around the world have called a racist, demagogue, and downright dangerous will command the world’s strongest country.  The entire world reacted at first with emotions of shock and fear but soon leaders started to congratulate President-elect Donald Trump.  Many stated that they are ready to work with the incoming president or talked about different international relations goals.

European leaders including German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande called Trump and promised to work with him, however, Hollande did say that the world was entering an uncertain period.

Russian President,Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to congratulate Trump and has said he is excited to  work with him.  Putin has supported Trump since early on in the election.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has said that he is ready to work closely with President Trump.

Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani has said that hopes Trump will respect the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu has congratulated Trump and said he is a true friend to Israel.

Palestinian Authority President, Mahmud Abbas’ spokesperson said that he expected the US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict not to change and hoped to continue negotiations.

Hopefully, Donald Trump will help foster peace and continued strengthening of relations across the world.  Some of his statements may have been controversial but Trump has recently been trying to reach out to world leaders and has already spoken to many officials around the world.

Where to Look for Election Predictions

Prediction Sites

With just days until arguably one of the most historic elections in recent history, I would like to give a run-down of most of the different polls and predictions for the 2016 presidential election.

RealClearPolitics (RCP) http://realclearpolitics.com/

The most popular site for polls is RealClearPolitics.  On this site, most polls are shown and there is also a RealClearPolitics average chart, an average of all the polls in the past week.  RealClearPolitics is used by most commentators and news agencies as well as political campaigns.  They not only show polls for the presidential election but also for the house, senate and governor’s races as well as other state elections.  RealClearPolitics also shows polls for opinions about national issues and approval ratings of politicians.

FiveThirtyEight (538) http://fivethirtyeight.com/

This site shows predictions based on polls for presidential and senate elections.  538 updates its predictions daily based on new opinion polls and developments relating to candidates in the elections being covered.  538 uses a variety of different means to come up with their predictions.  They have predictions based on historic polls, current polls and a combination of the two plus economic and social statistics.  

270 to Win http://www.270towin.com/

270 to win also shows predictions on the 2016 election but is better known for its interactive electoral map.  The site also has versions of the map as predicted by different political analysts.