Macron wins strong majority
Women to make up 38.6 pct of new parliament
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)