Macron wins strong ma­jor­ity

Women to make up 38.6 pct of new par­lia­ment

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

PARIS, June 19, (AFP): Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron was poised to forge ahead with his pro-EU, pro-busi­ness re­forms Mon­day af­ter his cen­trist party re­drew France’s po­lit­i­cal map with a re­sound­ing vic­tory in par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

Al­though it fell short of a pre­dicted land­slide, Macron’s Repub­lic on the Move (REM) and its al­lies won 350 seats in the 577-seat Na­tional Assem­bly on Sun­day.

The elec­tion was be­ing closely watched in Europe and around the world to see if France’s youngest-ever leader would se­cure a man­date to push through his pro-EU re­form agenda.

The new body will be nearly six years younger on av­er­age, have a record 223 women law­mak­ers, and will be strik­ingly less po­lit­i­cally ex­pe­ri­enced.

The trail­blaz­ing party that 39-yearold Macron founded just 14 months ago has caused a po­lit­i­cal earth­quake even if the win­ning score was con­sid­er­ably lower than the 470 seats pre­dicted by some pre-vote sur­veys.

“A pro­foundly re­newed po­lit­i­cal gen­er­a­tion takes over the reins of leg­isla­tive power,” wrote ed­i­to­ri­al­ist Alexis Brezet in the right-lean­ing daily Le Fi­garo.

Macron’s con­fi­dent start at home, where he has con­cen­trated on try­ing to re­store the lost pres­tige of the pres­i­dent, and his bold ac­tion on the in­ter­na­tional stage has in­spired a raft of pos­i­tive head­lines.

Macron wants to use his ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment to pur­sue his agenda of loos­en­ing labour laws and over­haul­ing France’s so­cial se­cu­rity sys­tem.

He has al­ready had lit­tle push­back on his stated in­ten­tion to use ex­ec­u­tive or­ders to push through re­forms with­out par­lia­men­tary de­bate — though street protests over the ero­sion of cher­ished

govern­ment could be used for the first time.

“A joint EU re­sponse to ma­li­cious cy­ber ac­tiv­i­ties would be pro­por­tion­ate to the scope, scale, du­ra­tion, in­ten­sity, com­plex­ity, so­phis­ti­ca­tion and im­pact of the cy­ber ac­tiv­ity,” the bloc said in a state­ment. (RTRS)

EU ex­tends Rus­sia sanc­tions:

The Euro­pean Union has ex­tended sanc­tions against Rus­sia for a year over its an­nex­a­tion of Ukraine’s Crimean Penin­sula in 2014.

EU foreign min­is­ters said in a state­ment work­ers’ rights such as those seen last year are con­sid­ered likely.

The par­lia­men­tary boost also strength­ens Macron’s hand on the Euro­pean stage as the EU heads into ne­go­ti­a­tions on Britain’s de­par­ture from the bloc.

The staunch europhile — in stark con­trast to pres­i­den­tial ri­val Ma­rine Le Pen — will take part in his first EU sum­mit Thurs­day and Fri­day in Brus­sels.

He wants a lead­er­ship role in coun­ter­ing the kind of na­tion­al­ism that far-right leader Le Pen rep­re­sents, which spurred the Brexit vote and helped pro­pel Don­ald Trump to the US pres­i­dency.

Macron’s de­trac­tors point to a record­low turnout of just un­der 44 per­cent in Sun­day’s polling, say­ing he can­not claim to en­joy a deep vein of sup­port.


Rad­i­cal left leader Jean-Luc Me­len­chon de­scribed it as “a sort of civic gen­eral strike”.

The Macron team ac­knowl­edged the crit­i­cism, with govern­ment spokesman Christophe Cas­taner ad­mit­ting: “We got a clear ma­jor­ity but at the same time, the French peo­ple didn’t want to sign a blank cheque.”

REM routed the So­cial­ists and heav­ily de­feated the rightwing Repub­li­cans, while Le Pen’s Na­tional Front (FN) had a dis­ap­point­ing night.

Le Pen en­tered par­lia­ment for the first time in her ca­reer in one of eight seats won by the FN.

But Le Pen’s na­tion­al­ist party fell well short of its 15-seat tar­get that would have al­lowed it to form a par­lia­men­tary group with a role in set­ting the agenda.

She in­sisted the FN would still be a key player, say­ing: “We are the only force of re­sis­tance to the wa­ter­ing down of France, of its so­cial model and its

Mon­day that the 28-na­tion bloc “re­mains com­mit­ted to fully im­ple­ment its non-recog­ni­tion pol­icy” of Rus­sia’s seizure of Crimea and the city of Sev­astopol.

The sanc­tions are now set to run un­til June 23, 2018, and ap­ply to EU cit­i­zens and com­pa­nies. They ban the im­port of prod­ucts from Crimea and Sev­astopol, halt any Euro­pean in­vest­ment or real es­tate pur­chases and stop cruise ships from stop­ping there.

The mea­sures also ban the ex­port of some goods and tech­nolo­gies that could be used iden­tity.”

The So­cial­ists (PS) were the big­gest losers, pun­ished for the high un­em­ploy­ment, so­cial un­rest and lost na­tional con­fi­dence that marked their five years in power.

The party of Macron’s pre­de­ces­sor Fran­cois Hol­lande shed more than 250 seats, ob­tain­ing just 29.

The Repub­li­cans and their al­lies fared bet­ter, hang­ing on to 131 seats, down from over 200 in the last par­lia­ment, and re­main­ing the main op­po­si­tion party.

The con­ser­va­tive party had enough seats to “de­fend its con­vic­tions”, said the party’s leader for the elec­tions, Fran­cois Baroin, call­ing on Macron to heed the record low turnout, which he said sent “a mes­sage”.

Me­len­chon’s hard-left France Un­bowed won 17 seats as it also strug­gled to main­tain the mo­men­tum it had dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Only 140 in­cum­bents held onto their seats, which they will oc­cupy along­side no fewer than 424 new mem­bers, char­ac­terised by younger, more eth­ni­cally di­verse law­mak­ers.

And women will make up 38.6 per­cent of the new par­lia­ment, com­pared with 25.8 per­cent in the out­go­ing par­lia­ment — a fig­ure that placed France 63rd in the world for women in par­lia­ment, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter-Par­lia­men­tary Union.

Around half of REM’s can­di­dates are vir­tual un­knowns drawn from di­verse fields of academia, busi­ness or lo­cal ac­tivism.

The other half are a mix of cen­trists and mod­er­ate left- and right-wing politi­cians drawn from es­tab­lished par­ties in­clud­ing ally MoDem.

for trans­port, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions or in the en­ergy sec­tor — par­tic­u­larly oil, gas or min­eral ex­plo­ration.

These sanc­tions are just one part of a raft of mea­sures the EU has im­posed on Rus­sia for its role in the con­flict in Ukraine and mis­use of Ukrainian state funds.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told re­porters Mon­day that Moscow does not think the sanc­tions are “le­git­i­mate.” He said “they are hurt­ing not only us but also the coun­tries that adopted them.” (AP)

Moscow names Turkey en­voy:

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on Mon­day ap­pointed a new am­bas­sador to Turkey fol­low­ing the killing of Moscow’s pre­vi­ous en­voy An­drei Karlov in De­cem­ber.

In a de­cree posted in an of­fi­cial data­base, Putin gave an or­der to “ap­point Alexei Yerkhov as ... am­bas­sador of the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion to Turkey.”

Yerkhov, 57, pre­vi­ously worked with Karlov as the Rus­sian con­sul in Is­tan­bul. He cur­rently heads the foreign min­istry’s cri­sis cen­tre which is­sues of­fi­cial travel ad­vice.

Karlov, 62, was shot nine times at point­blank range by a 22-year-old po­lice­man at the open­ing of a photo ex­hi­bi­tion on Dec 19. He died on the spot.

The as­sailant, Mev­lut Mert Alt­in­tas, shouted “Al­lahu Ak­bar” (God is great­est) and “Don’t for­get Aleppo” as he opened fire, be­fore be­ing shot dead by Turk­ish guards.

The Turk­ish govern­ment blamed the mur­der on the group of US-based cleric Fethul­lah Gulen, on whom they also blame the failed coup at­tempt against Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan last July. (AFP)

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