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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.

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Global Politics

Travel bubble bursts between Australia and NZ

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New Zealand has suspended its travel bubble with Australia

The nation has halted its travel bubble arrangements for at least eight weeks as Australia continues to battle against the delta variant of COVID-19.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern fronted the media and stated that “the Delta variant has materially changed the risk profile”. 

From 11:59pm tonight, Australians will be unable to travel to New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight

This restriction will be in place for at least the next eight weeks.

The trans-tasman route is already closed to travellers flying into New Zealand from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia as those states battle COVID-19 outbreaks. 

“For New Zealanders in Australia, we are absolutely committed to getting you home,” Ms Ardern said. 

Jacinda Ardern has paused the trans-Tasman arrangement with Australia.

Constant disruption to trans-Tasman travel bubble

Flights to New Zealand inside the bubble have been paused and restarted as different Australian states have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks. 

“For the next seven days, we will have managed return flights for New Zealanders from all states and territories. 

“Only New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand will be able to fly home.” 

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Global Politics

“National emergency” – Sydney in crisis as COVID cases rise

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Sydney has declared a national emergency as COVID-19 cases rise across the Australian city

Sydney and the state of New South Wales is calling on the Australian Federal Government to “refocus the national vaccination strategy”.

As the delta variant of the virus spreads throughout the city, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her government have declared a national emergency.

New South Wales Government officials say that the spreading of the virus is “threatening the safety of other states.”

“This is not just a challenge for New South Wales – it’s a challenge for Australia”

They’ve encouraged people in virus-ravaged south-western and western Sydney to urgently “do their duty” and get vaccinated against coronavirus.

“The national emergency, every citizen has a duty to do what they can to defeat whatever is happening to us – in this case, it is a Delta variant of a virus,”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.

The Premier has stressed the importance of getting vaccinated as NSW records its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases today.

“We need to vaccinate younger people, between that 20 and 40-year-old age group,”

The Premier said.

Meanwhile, Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant says Australia urgently needs to “correct the mythology about AstraZeneca”.

“There is no doubt that if we want to contain this virus and stop it seeping out to other parts of Greater Sydney, stop it impacting our freedom and our economy, but also stop it spreading to other states, we need to have a discussion about refocusing the national vaccination strategy,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

The issue will be addressed at today’s National Cabinet, she said.

At least 53 of today’s NSW cases were infectious in the community

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Business

Is a $52 billion boost enough to end a global chip shortage?

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As the race to combat the global chip shortage continues the Biden administration is big to end the crisis

US President Joe Biden is preparing to spend $52 billion to boost the worsening shortage of semiconductor chips.

The White House is still waiting for congressional approval on the big spend but is pushing ahead with plans of how to invest the money wisely.

The Commerce Secretary says America “needs to incentivise the manufacturing of chips” if the country wants the crisis to end.

She added that officials have been speaking with the impacted industries on a daily basis which has helped address the shortage from the ground up.

Whilst there have been reports that the sector is gradually improving, but the car manufacturing sector may still be impacted by delays.

Biden recently called for Semiconductor chips to be produced locally in the US, but this company is ignoring his plea.

Semiconductor manufacturer ‘Global Foundries’ has ignored US President Joe Biden’s request for new plants to be built locally amid the global chip shortage.

Construction will begin on the $4 billion Asian plant in 2023. This goes against the Biden administration’s wishes to return chip manufacturing to American soil.

The company will join rivals including ‘Samsung’ and ‘Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’ which are all also trying to address the current chip shortage.

The President has been under increasing pressure to secure a constant supply of this crucial tech that is used in so many modern devices.

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