“Emmanuel Macron is elected as the next president of France”
After the most thrilling and tumultuous election campaign of recent times, the French have defied populism and made history. On May 7th they elected Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old former Socialist economy minister who has never fought an election campaign in his life, to be their next president. According to early estimates, the one-time investment banker secured a resounding 65.8% of the vote in the final run-off against his opponent, the nationalist Marine Le Pen. It was an emphatic demonstration that it is possible in a Western liberal democracy to fashion a pro-European, centrist response to populism and nationalism.
This was a historic result on many counts. Mr. Macron will become the youngest-ever French president, beating the previous record held by Napoléon Bonaparte’s nephew, Louis-Napoléon, elected in 1848 at the age of 40. In a country that likes presidential candidates to have serial battle scars, Mr. Macron has never been a deputy, nor stood for election. He set up his political movement, En Marche! (On the Move!), only 13 months ago. His hopes of building it up against existing party machines, with their deep pockets and decades of experience, looked then like a far-fetched fantasy. Since the Fifth Republic was established by Charles de Gaulle in 1958, no independent candidate without electoral experience has come anywhere close to the French presidency.
Once the victory celebrations on election night subside, Mr. Macron will need to find a way to speak to the one-third who rejected him. Many of these angry voters are from small towns and rural parts that have lost jobs, factories and services, and see no benign side to globalization. Some backed Mr. Macron only to keep out Ms. Le Pen. Others abstained or left their ballots blank, dismayed by the choice between what some called “cholera or the plague”: global finance or xenophobic nationalism. Ms. Le Pen may be disappointed with her result, but she still set an FN record, nearly doubling the score her father achieved. Her party, and populism, will continue to weigh on French politics.
“A minister’s faith complicates Canada’s relations with India”
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, made much of appointing four Sikhs to his 30-person cabinet in 2015, boasting he had more than his Indian counterpart Narenda Modi. Singling out four of the 500,000 Canadian adherents to a religion that originated in the Punjab region of India about 500 years ago fits with Mr. Trudeau’s constant refrain that Canada’s diversity is a source of strength. Yet it can lead to unexpected problems, as Harjit Sajjan, the defense minister (and a Sikh), discovered during a recent government mission to India, his country of birth.
Canada has long been keen to reduce its trade dependence on America and has identified China, India and Japan as promising markets. Mr. Sajjan was dispatched to talk to the Indians about defense, security and investment last month. But even before he set foot in the country the fact that he was a Sikh from Canada became an issue. Amarinder Singh, chief minister of Punjab state, accused Mr. Sajjan and his fellow Sikh cabinet ministers of favoring an independent state for Sikhs called Khalistan. The majority of Sikhs in India live in Punjab. Mr. Singh declared he would not meet with Mr. Sajjan, although it is not clear a meeting was requested.
The visit would have been a diplomatic triumph—were it not for the comments Mr. Sajjan made to an Indian audience that exaggerated the role he played while a member of the Canadian military in Afghanistan. Last week he was forced to make a formal statement in the Canadian parliament to apologies for his boasts. Having avoided the religious potholes, he stepped into a secular one.
“Trump Accuses Sally Yates of Leaking «Classified Information into The Newspapers»”
Later today at 2:30PM EST, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer more questions about «Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election.» As it turns out, President Trump has a couple of suggested additions to the question list for Ms. Yates, which he decided to share this morning over Twitter. «Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council,» said Mr. Trump.
Yates, who was fired by Trump after her refusal to back his controversial immigration order (see «Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Yates For «Betrayal»), is expected to give her account of the warnings she gave to the White House regarding former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Yates reportedly told the White House that Flynn might have misled the administration about the content of his communications with Sergey Kislyak. Which, of course, turned out to be true and resulted in Trump also firing Flynn in February after reports he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials were confirmed.
“82 Chibok schoolgirls freed in exchange for five Boko Haram leaders”
Months of negotiations involving participants across two continents has resulted in a deal in which 82 Chibok schoolgirls – who were seized from their dormitories in April 2014 and held captive for more than three years by the Islamist group Boko Haram – have been released in exchange for five militant leaders.
Thousands of other women and girls have also been seized by Boko Haram, but the Chibok girls gained international attention when the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls took off on social media, where it was was promoted by Michelle Obama and other celebrities. The unintended consequence of the girls’ sudden fame was that their value to the militants who held them was multiplied.
The deal was negotiated by Mustapha Zanna, a barrister who is currently the proprietor of an orphanage in Maiduguri, but who was once the lawyer of the late founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf. It also involved the Swiss government and the Red Cross.
Boko Haram released 21 girls and young women in October 2016 in a similar deal. The Red Cross was also involved in the transfer of those released captives. At the time, it was announced 83 more would be released soon. According to a tally by AP 113 of the Chibok girls remain unaccounted for.