When German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly stated that she hopes Emmanuel Macron will win the French presidential elections, few were surprised. Not only have both sides been in regular contact over the past months, but it also seemed unlikely that Merkel would refuse to back the only person still able to prevent a Marine Le Pen presidency.
Nevertheless, if Macron wins on Sunday, which current polls suggest is likely, this will not only be a relief for Merkel, but will also put her in a difficult position. Macron, who has run on a decisively pro-European platform, will need to prove his ability to achieve reforms once elected. For his planned reforms on the EU-level however –– which most prominently feature a common eurozone budget and parliament –– he will rely on German cooperation. The problem? Until now, the appetite of Germany’s current government for Macron’s reforms has been rather low.
Young Voices advocate Bill Wirtz has been busy! Coming off his interview last week with Glenn Beck, he has written about the French elections in FEE and also in Newsweek about larger trends rippling into the Czech Republic. Today he joins Stephen Kent of Young Voices on the podcast to discuss the latest in France and the EU.
After the first round of voting last Sunday, the French electorate decided to send independent candidate Emmanuel Macron (23.8 percent) and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen (21.6 percent) to the next round of voting on May 7th.
Opponents of Le Pen’s radical policies are now calling for a gathering of the so-called “Front Républicain,” the Republican Front.
Inspired by the name of Le Pen’s National Front, the Republican Front gathers those who reject the rampant nationalist positions of the French far-right, which they consider contrary to the “Republican spirit.”
While not an established party in itself, the Republican Front represents a coalition of different parties in the République against a particularly unpopular candidate like Marine Le Pen.
In about two years, the United Kingdom will officially leave the European Union, and commentators around the continent are speculating about which country will be next. In Western Europe eyes are on France and the Netherlands, as both have strong Euroskeptic movements, bolstered by anti-immigration parties. But to identify the larger but creeping threat to the EU, you need to look east.
One country facing a rising tide of Euroskepticism is the Czech Republic. Anti-immigration sentiment has surged in the Central European state ever since it joined the EU in 2004.
About two thirds of Czech people oppose taking in refugees, and a 2015 poll found that 94 percent favor closing the borders completely. Czech politicians have capitalized on these sentiments, with a growing number of politicians running under an “anti-immigration” banner.
Since January 2017, France requires all cigarette packs to be sold in plain packaging — they all come in the same green-ish colour, only a neutral font lets the consumer identify the different brands. The government’s anti-tobacco fanaticism costs the taxpayer a fortune.
It sounded a bit like Paris had Stockholm Syndrome when the papers announced “the government is buying 100 million euros worth of cigarettes off of French tobacconists”. These coloured packs which were delivered to the tobacconists before the law and make a up a total amount of 15 million packs of cigarettes, or a 36-hour tobacco consumption of the entire country. With a total weight of 250 tons, an astounding number of old, coloured packs, complete with brand name, will be prohibited soon.