The Weekly Read #7: Elections, Elections, Elections

What is the Weekly Read? It’s where I give you my take of the news of and share other things that have caught my attention the past week.

Scientists had to march for FACTS, France goes to the polls and Britain is keen not to be outdone by its historical arch rival: so a snap election! 

(Photo by Elliot Stallion @Unsplash)


It’s official: It’s Macron v Le Pen

The French Presidential Election kicked off on Sunday and the results of the first round are in. On May 7, you won’t see the Socialist or the Republican candidates head to head for the French presidency. We can all have a chat about why that is the case but the numbers don’t lie. Emmanuel Macron, a newcomer to politics with his fresh face and his pro-Europe and hope filled messages won 23.7% (as of  10.37pm of Sunday GMT) of the projected vote. Le Pen? The ultranationalist colonialism hugger and denier of the French involvement in the holocaust – she brought home 21.9%. Fillon, the candidate of Sarkozy’s party came third with 19.7%.

For the latest updates, check out the BBC live coverage.

What now?

1. Is Macron going to beat Le Pen and win the presidency? If someone had asked me this question last year – before Brexit and Trump – I would have laughed in their face. Of course the sensible Macron would have won! But perhaps a year ago I wouldn’t even predict that a relative newcomer to politics would displace le Partie Socialiste or Les Republicains. But that’s exactly what has happened. In the space of a year Macron and his party En Marche! have done something one would consider almost impossible. Alas, after Trump everything is possible so I’m not holding my breath for this.

2. France has demonstrated that what it wants is change. Fillon with his penelopegate scandal was perhaps too much establishment. And so was the Socialist candidate Hamon who brought home the results you would expect from a newly established party – 6.06% according to the French interior ministry latest data. Further evidence of France really wanting a change? Mélenchon, the far left populist candidate getting 18.92% of the vote. Change, no matter what kind of change is on the menu. My hope is that this should serve as a lesson to establishment parties who have lived so much in their complacent bubble.

3. The future of Europe is in the hands of France. But the Future of France also hangs in the balance. The country that gave birth to Enlightenment could elect a far right nationalist, a woman who has taken French civic nationalism and has made it very much a question of a chauvinist nationalism that wants to go back to a mythical yesteryear.

Please please please France, don’t pull an America or Britain on us.

Interesting reads/content on the French election:

The Economist, A consequential choice for France – and an uncertain one

“His critics say Mr Macron is wishy-washy. But he is the only candidate who has made a full-blooded case for the open society and economy this newspaper believes in. That takes courage—the courage to step outside France’s party system, to defend complex arguments against polarising sound bites and to stand for optimism in an age of identity politics. That is a message all democracies need to hear” – The Economist, Print Edition April 22 2017

Peggy Hollinger for the Financial Times, What it means to be French

Sophie Pedder for 1843, Marine Le Pen, L’Etrangere

Vox on Marine Le Pen

Another election in Britain?!

I’m sorry Brenda but it’s decided:  Britain will go to the polls for a snap election.

Is Theresa May and her conservative posse going to wipe the floor with Corbyn? Possibly yes if polls are to be believed.

After denying –  with the same vehemence you  would associate with a climate denier- that she would call an election, dear Theresa has done a U-turn, blaming the “opposition” for a need for a general election. Sure dear Theresa. I believe ya, mate.

A part of me is relieved. After all I was one of those who grumbled about how Theresa May got the leadership of the party unopposed at the end. This should be a democratic test to her legitimacy as PM. But I can’t help but feel conflicted. It’s unlikely that Labour will win – not that I’m rooting for Corbyn’s Labour to win. Gosh, no. What I’m worried about is a landslide and a weak opposition to keep the Conservative party in check. Would too much power go over the Tory’s head?

Ben Riley-Smith for the Telegraph wrote an interesting analysis of the snap election to come.  I recommend reading it.

The Economist, as usual, does not disappoint in their analysis in their print edition.

My favorite part of the article is this:

“Mrs May says the election is necessary to protect the Brexit process from mischievous opposition parties that plan to derail it. That is nonsense: although most MPs, including her own, campaigned to Remain, they have dutifully upheld the referendum result in Parliament.” – The Economist

It’s not a joke: we needed a March for Science in 2017!

Saturday was #earthday and tons of people came out to take part in a march for science. It was a global event, with people in cities across the world coming together to march for facts, evidence based policies and basic logic – it seems to me.

Yes, folks. It’s 2017 and we need a bloody march on science because scientists and facts are under attack. This is insane. It’s insane to think that in this technological age where the word apple instantly makes you think about a tech company instead of the fruit; where we will soon  have driverless cars and etc. etc. we have people arguing about scientific facts just like we had people arguing about science in the middle ages.

The earth is flat, Galileo. DO NOT FORGET THAT.

I really do not know what else to say. If historians tell you that it was pretty unprecedented, you need to start worrying. I’m disappointed that we needed a march for science in the first place but we’re leaving in increasingly weird and scary times. I do appreciate and support the effort of the scientific community to do what is right and fight for knowledge.

Everyone should see some of the signs at the march – they were probably the best signs I have ever laid eyes upon.

To watch:

Earth will survive. Whether we do or not that’s the question.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is goals. Listen to him.


Miscellaneous

1. It’s not the first time I mention O’Reilly. But this dude had it coming. His vacation from Fox News following a scandal – apparently Fox paid $13m+ over the years to hush sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly  – has become permanent. But there is no space to rejoice and I see little to no prospect in Fox changing. After all they paid hush money, and money is really the reason for their decisions to let go of O’Reilly. I guess they really did not fancy losing all that advertising money. Sad.

The political satirist Samantha Bee brings Fox News to task about their horrible exit statement, symptomatic of a company very much running for mysoginist company of the year.

2. North Korea makes the news again. Trump may have been bluffing when he stated that a US carrier was directed towards the Korean peninsula to show might and strength and deter NK. South Korea’s reaction could be akin to a  F*** U.

The Communist monarchy may have been funding its nuclear endeavors thanks to operations of its insurance company located in the UK – of which the asset have only recently been frozen by the UK government. Nice.

NK likes adding to its collections of American citizens it detains.

3. Leaning In ain’t easy, or so is proven by Rachel Bloom’s New Song if we  listen to Vanity Fair.


Highlights of the Week

Who would have thought I would agree with a Tea Party conservative about climate change. Huh.


Podcast of the Week

FP’s The Editor’s Roundtable – Book Talk: The Retreat of Western Liberalism

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