Global News April 24, 2017

  1. BBC
  2. Global News April 24, 2017

New York Times
“Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen Advance in French Election”

In France’s most consequential election in recent history, voters on Sunday chose Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to go to a runoff to determine the next president, official returns showed. One is a political novice, the other a far-right firebrand — both outsiders, but with starkly different visions for the country.
The result was a full-throated rebuke of France’s traditional mainstream parties, setting the country on an uncertain path in an election that could also decide the future of the European Union. It is the first time in the nearly 59-year history of France’s Fifth Republic that both of the final candidates are from outside the traditional left-right party structure. Together, they drew less than half the total votes cast in a highly-fractured election.
Even before the official tallies were announced, the political establishment was rallying behind Mr. Macron, warning of the dangers of a victory by Ms. Le Pen’s far-right National Front, though few analysts give her much of a chance of winning the May 7 runoff. Mr. Macron, a former investment banker, abandoned traditional parties a year ago to form his own movement with an eclectic blend of left and right policies. He campaigned on a pro-European Union platform, coupled with calls to overhaul the rules governing the French economy. Ms. Le Pen’s success was a victory for people who oppose the European Union and for those who want to see more “France first” policies to restrict immigration, protect French industry and limit public signs of Muslim faith, including the wearing of head scarves.


The Guardian
“Chinese leader urges restraint over North Korea in call with Trump”

China’s president, Xi Jinping, has called on Donald Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to exercise restraint as a US aircraft carrier group headed towards the waters off the Korean peninsula.
Tensions remain high after a war of words between the US and North Korea over the past month, with Trump ordering the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula and raising the possibility of military action. In the second call between Trump and Xi in less than two weeks, Xi urged all sides to temper their actions. China “hopes all parties involved will exercise restraint and avoid doing anything to exacerbate the tense situation on the peninsula”, read a summary of the call released by China’s foreign ministry. “Only when the parties involved assume responsibility and move in the same direction can there be a quick resolution to the Korean nuclear issue and denuclearisation of the peninsula.”
China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and Trump has repeatedly pressed China to do more to rein in the reclusive state. But China has been reluctant to take drastic action, preferring to maintain a status quo rather than risk a collapse of Kim’s regime, using North Korea as a buffer with US-allied South Korea. On Sunday the Global Times, a Chinese state-owned newspaper, said another test could result in restrictions on oil exports to Pyongyang, an important lifeline for the regime.


“Venezuela protest death toll rises as injured woman dies”

The 47-year-old woman was hit by a bottle of frozen water thrown from a building at government supporters.
Ten people have been killed in pro- and anti-government demonstrations this month so far.
Another 11 people died on Friday when a bakery was looted in Caracas. Tension has risen sharply in Venezuela following a controversial decision on 29 March by the country’s Supreme Court to take over the powers of the opposition-dominated National Assembly.
Critics of the government said the ruling undermined the country’s separation of powers and took Venezuela a step closer to one-man rule under President Nicolas Maduro. The Supreme Court’s reversal of its ruling three days later was not enough to stop a wave of protests the original decision triggered. There have been anti-government protests across cities in Venezuela almost daily this month, while government supporters have been holding rival marches to show their loyalty to President Maduro. Both government and opposition supporters as well as bystanders have been killed during the marches and the violence surrounding them. There is little sign of the protests subsiding as the opposition has vowed to «stay on the streets» until presidential elections due to be held at the end of 2018 are brought forward. On Sunday, President Maduro called for talks with the opposition to resume. Vatican-backed talks held late last year failed to yield any notable agreements and ended after the opposition accused the government of intransigence. Opposition groups have called on their supporters to hold sit-ins across Venezuela on Monday in a continuation of their protests.


“Investors cheer as Macron emerges as favorite to lead France”

The euro and stock markets surged higher Monday after pro-European reformer Emmanuel Macron emerged as the front runner to become the next French president.
The former economics minister and investment banker beat far-right leader Marine Le Pen into second place in the first round of voting Sunday. They will face off in a second round on May 7.
The euro jumped against the dollar to its highest level since November as investors bet that the chances of Le Pen winning power were fading. The currency trimmed its gains later but the main French stock market index — the CAC 40 — gained 4% in early trading.
Wall Street was enthusiastic about the result too: Futures markets indicated gains of roughly 1% for the main Dow Jones and S&P indexes.
Deutsche Bank’s director of foreign exchange strategy Sebastien Galy called Sunday’s vote the «perfect scenario for the market.»
Le Pen, leader of the National Front, campaigned on a threat to dump the euro and pull France out of the European Union. Losing its second biggest member could spell the end of the eurozone, and tip the region into recession, economists had warned before the vote. Analysts say the fact that opinion polls had consistently predicted a Macron-Le Pen run-off could boost market confidence because the polls suggest Macron should easily win the second round. «That’s what the foreign exchange market is going to trade off in the days ahead and indeed is already doing,» said Kit Juckes, strategist at Societe Generale.