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Big blows in France’s regional elections | ticker VIEWS

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France recently held regional elections.

France’s recent regional elections have produced several blows for President Emmanuel Macron, and Marine Le Pen’s far-right party

In France, regional governments are responsible for economic development, transport and secondary education.

France’s regional elections take place every six years. They foreshadow the upcoming national election in 2022.

Professor Arthur Kroker from the University of Victoria is an expert in French politics. He says the latest regional elections produced some very significant results.

“It really shows the resurgence of the centre-right itself, but at the same time it shows troubling signs for the future success of Macron’s Republican move.”

But this rendezvous proves that French citizens aren’t overly phased about their local representatives.

What do these regional elections mean?

The elections are indicative of the trends or issues that France will be dealing with in a post-COVID environment.

France has been hit hard by COVID-19. There have been over five million confirmed cases of coronavirus, and a devastating 110,000 deaths.

These regional elections were pushed back several times, as France underwent subsequent lockdowns to curb a nationwide cluster of infections,

In fact, France held the first round of regional elections on the same day that an eight-month nightly curfew was lifted.

But these elections could signal a shift in issues that the French population will be voting for next year. Professor Kroker suggests this shift could favour certain parties.

“The psychology of the population is really going to be between the centre-right and Macron’s policies.”

Professor arthur kroker
French President Emmanuel Macron.

Professor Kroker believes the regional elections paint a holistic picture of what lies ahead.

“The French people are looking for a new social contract.”

PROFESSOR ARTHUR KROKER

“I think that the French electorate is rejecting the excesses of technocratic neoliberalism on the one hand and representing the xenophobia and anti-semitism on the other hand,” he says.

Who are the winners?

The centre-right Les Républicains (LR) and the Socialist party both held firmly. The LR has several hopefuls for the upcoming presidential race. But the key issue will be what candidate unites the party and gains support.

However, these regional election results could indicate that the French population has not decided on their preferred candidates ahead of next year’s national election.

In all, France’s 13 regions are represented by a smorgasbord of parties.

The results from France’s regional elections. Source: French Interior Ministry.

Who are the losers?

Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party experienced some major defeats. Pre-polling gave Le Pen’s party a first-round lead in six regions. But she failed to win even one.

However, Professor Kroker believes the results are concerning for both Le Pen and Macron.

“When I think about Le Pen and the far-right, they have been successfully blocked from expanding their regions in French politics itself.”

Likewise, Macron has shifted his party’s stance entirely.

“Macron has successfully moved his party into an alliance against the new right on the basis of real xenophobia against the Muslim population.

“He calls any Islamic ideology… death ideology. He has taken many hardline positions, and even Le Pen’s positions into the centre of French politics.”

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the Rassemblement National party.

In the lead up to the regional elections, the leader of the far-right RN party was confident of winning up to five regions, with pre-vote polls giving her party a first-round lead in six.

The RN’s highest hopes were for the region covering Marseille and Nice. But its candidate, Thierry Mariani, secured 43 percent of the vote, against the centre-right’s Renaud Muselier with 57 percent.

Voter turnout reaches historic low

Voter turnout was very low at these regional elections. Around 35 percent of the French population cast a ballot—a historic low since 1958.

Many politicians expressed their concerns about the low voter turnout. But what is the reason?

“That represents to me that there’s exhaustion, or anxiety. Maybe it also represents undecidability in the French electorate,” Professor Kroker says.

But is the pandemic and a rather lacklustre campaign a reason for the increased voter disenfranchisement? On the other side of the world, Victoria, Australia recorded a 81.4 percent voter turnout for their 2020 council elections—a nine percent increase. The state also endured one of the world’s longest COVID-19 lockdowns.

We’ll have to wait and see what France’s 2022 national election delivers. But for Macron and Le Pen, there’s a lot of work required to unite a disenfranchised nation in a post-pandemic world.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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World

India’s ban on single-use plastics comes into effect

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India is banning many single-use plastics in a bid to tackle pollution

India produces around four million tonnes of plastic waste each year. But authorities will begin cracking down on usage and production of single-use plastics from Friday.

India’s Government believes 60 per cent of plastic waste is recycled. But a survey by the Centre for Science and Environment found the figure was 12 per cent in 2019.

When plastic waste is not recycled correctly, it creates fire hazards and air pollution, which blankets India’s major cities. It can also enter local waterways, which poisons wildlife.

New Delhi is the world’s most polluted city.

Some plastic bags and multi-layered packaging are exempt from these latest changes.

Millions of people are employed in the country’s plastic industry, with many pushing the government to delay the ban.

Street vendors are also expressing concerns around the changes.

The nation’s capital, New Delhi is the world’s most polluted city.

The Air Quality Institute found 510 million people who live in northern India “on track” to lose 7.6 years off their lives if pollution levels remain as they are.

Local authorities are set to decide the penalties for people in breach of the single-use plastics ban.

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World

U.K. Government in crisis as Tory whip resigns over sexual assault allegations

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Boris Johnson’s government is in crisis as the Tory whip resigned over allegations he groped two men while drunk

In his resignation letter, Chris Pincher admitted he “drank far too much” and embarrassed himself and other people.

“I think the right thing to do in the circumstances is for me to resign as Deputy Chief Whip. I owe it to you and the people I’ve caused upset to, to do this.”

CHRIS PINCHER

According to sources from Downing Street, it is unlikely Pincher will face any further action, and he will remain as a Conservative MP.

The Sun newspaper first reported the resignation, saying he was drinking at the Carlton Club when he is accused of assaulting two other male guests.

Reports suggest several concerned Tory MPs contacted the Conservative whips’ office to complain about Pincher’s behaviour.

Prime Minister is yet to comment on the matters.

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World

Beijing issues a stark warning to Canberra

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Beijing is warning Australia will “bear the consequences” if there are any military disputes in the South China Sea

China’s Defence Ministry says Australia is engaging in “risky” behaviour, as surveillance jets fly near the disputed Paracel Islands.

“What is the duty of a soldier? That is to defend the homeland,” says Colonel Tan Kefei.

The islands are claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

It comes just weeks after an Australian Air Force was challenged by a Chinese J-16 fighter in the disputed territory.

A Chinese J-10 fighter, similar to the one involved in the incident.

Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles says some aluminium chaff was drawn into the engines of the P-8A Poseidon.

“The J-16 then accelerated and cut across the nose of the P-8 settling in front of the P-8 at a very close distance,” he said.

The aircraft made its way back to its base, and Marles said the crew responded “professionally”.

It’s believed the Chinese jet also fired flares and chaff as a countermeasure.

The Defence Minister said he had communicated his concerns to Chinese authorities over the incident.

But China’s defence spokesperson, Colonel Tan says “those who come uninvited shall bear the consequences.”

Canada has also been in the firing line, as they reportedly carry out U.N. missions near North Korea.

But Chinese authorities believe the jets were monitoring China “under the pretext of enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions”.

“No matter what the name or excuse is, it is completely unreasonable to send military planes to the door of others to provoke and jeopardise the national security of other countries,” says Colonel Tan.

Australia’s Prime Minister met with Canada’s leader, Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Madrid this week.

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