Have all elections become unpredictable these days? The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy must be asking himself that question after a humiliating defeat on Sunday in the first round of his party’s primaries for next year’s presidential election. This huge upset – for a man who believed he was the only one of the six candidates who could “save” France – didn’t come from Alain Juppé, the right-of-centre mayor of Bordeaux who had been leading opinion polls for months. It came from Sarkozy’s own prime minister for five years, a man he used to describe as a “collaborator”, François Fillon.
Fillon’s success came after a long campaign in which he often appeared a spent force, a man whose conservative views and lack of charisma were unable to match Sarkozy’s energy and Juppé’s experience.… Seguir leyendo »
The view from Russia.
Russia’s military intervention in Syria is largely a war of choice marketed as a necessity to defeat the terror of Islamic State. It brings Russia back from the cold as an indispensable power.
Sending forces into combat allowed Moscow to muscle its way to the centre of global diplomacy on Syria, while turning the conversation away from Ukraine. Displays of new military prowess and power diplomacy have become the primary sources of popular legitimacy for the Russian leaders. Moscow launched airstrikes in Syria on 30 September with only 15% of Russians paying attention but a month of relentless TV coverage has focused people’s minds the way the Kremlin wanted.… Seguir leyendo »
On Bastille Day this year, African troops from Mali, Chad and other nations proudly marched down the Champs-Élysées as part of the traditional French national-day military parade.
The event was a celebration of the successful military campaign earlier this year in which French and African troops pushed back jihadist groups from northern Mali, allowing the government in Bamako to recover full control of its country and call presidential elections for July 28.
President François Hollande later told a television interview that it was also a tribute to the heavy toll paid by Malian soldiers in the battle for France during the Second World War, when they were part of the French colonial empire.… Seguir leyendo »
There are two ways of looking at the results of the first round of the French presidential vote. On the surface, voters chose to engineer a classic left-right competition by sending the Socialist candidate François Hollande and the outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy into the second round, on 6 May.
But that’s far from the whole story. The biggest upset did not come, as was expected, from Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the maverick leftwing Socialist dissident in coalition with with the remains of the Communists – but from Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National.
Le Pen was credited with 18% of the vote, higher than the 16.5% that got her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, to the second round in 2002.… Seguir leyendo »
Last Saturday, at the end of a massive trade union demonstration in Paris, a group of about 200 self-proclaimed anarchists walked towards the Bastille square, and, instead of taking over the prison that is no longer there since the 1789 revolution, they tried to occupy the new opera house.
At 8pm, an unreal scene was visible from outside. On the first floor, through a huge glass window, bystanders could see opera lovers with a glass of champagne in their hands before the evening’s performance while RoboCop-like police were taking over the ground floor and arresting the troublemakers.
This could be a summary of the state of the country.… Seguir leyendo »