Emmanuel Macron, a 39 year-old former investment banker, won France’s presidential election on Sunday, defeating Marine Le Pen after voters repudiated her far-right message. Macron achieved the 66% of the total votes, compared with 34% for Le Pen, according to the Interior Ministry’s official count.
Macron will be the youngest president in the 59-year history of France’s Fifth Republic after leading a difficult campaign aimed at promoting the loosening of labour rules, the creation of a global and competitive market for France globally and the intensification of ties with the European Union.
However, the results show that a great part of the French population was skeptic about both projects, since nearly 34% of voters did not cast a ballot or cast a blank one. Indeed, the abstention rate was the highest since the year 1969.
This lack of support forecasts a laborious path for the following five years and Macron now tries to build a legislative majority. He has no party in the Parliament and French parliamentary elections will be held next month.
The European Union’s highest court ruled last Tuesday that private companies are authorized to prohibit female employees from wearing headscarves at job. It stated that banning “the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” cannot be found as direct discrimination.
The ruling of the European Court of Justice dictated that enterprises were legitimized to forbid these symbols so as to project a neutral image to the public. However, customers will not be authorized to request female workers to remove headscarves if the company has no regulations disallowing religious symbols.
Countries such as France, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands have already passed laws to ban full face-covering veils in public and government spaces or are considering doing so. Precisely, the ruling on this politically explosive issue appears when the European Union faces a critical election season, with races in the Netherlands, France and Germany.
With anti-immigrant and anti-Islam populism increasing in many European countries, the ruling of the European Court of Justice will be binding for the 28 member states of the Union.
Turkey’s relationship with Europe has weakened during the weekend after Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish president, blamed the Dutch government of being Nazi and Turkish politicians were banned from a political event in the Netherlands.
While this month German officials have been criticized for forbidding Turkish campaigns to vote yes to the referendum which would expand Erdogan’s powers, the Dutch government impeded the landing of the Turkish foreign minister and escorted the Turkish family minister out of the country.
The government of Netherlands, which has generally considered an open approach to face different attitudes, is in the middle of an assertive election campaign that has immigration as the primary issue.
Elsewhere in Europe, countries such as Denmark, Sweden, France, Switzerland or Austria have backed the decision taken by the Dutch government and made it clear that Erdogan’s campaign is unwelcome there.
The long-expected battle to seize back Mosul after more than two years of ISIS control has begun with military units moving on the northern part of the Iraqi city.
After months of planning, 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops have surrounded the last urban stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq for several days, giving a start to the most critical assault against the caliphate. US, British and French special forces are also taking part in the offensive and will play a significant role, especially in airstrikes against ISIS targets inside Mosul.
Since ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a caliphate in June 2014, Mosul has been central to the group’s objectives. It is believed that they have about 6,000 fighters ready to defend the city, hidden among approximately 600,000 civilians.
Triumph over ISIS seems to be likely. However there are great concerns about the terrible effects this decisive offensive may have on the civilians: International humanitarian agencies are preparing themselves for the aftermath of this battle.