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Geopolitics

National Front Election Defeat, French Newspapers React

National Front leader Marine Le Pen on Dec. 13
National Front leader Marine Le Pen on Dec. 13
Patrick Randall

PARIS — The French National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, failed to win a single region in the second round of regional elections Sunday despite leading in six of the country's 13 regions a week earlier in the first round. The center-right coalition led by Former President Nicolas Sarkozy won in seven regions, while the center-left of current President Francois Hollande took five, with Corsian nationalists winning in the island region of Corsica.

After a week of both the right and left factions of the political establishment warning of the consequences of a National Front victory, the French press described the far right's defeat as a victory of tactical voting, rather than any endorsement of either Sarkozy or Hollande. Indeed, a year and a half away from the next presidential election, the National Front reached a new high of support that shows that Le Pen, daughter of party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, is in a strong position to run for the presidency.

Here's how four dailies covered the results Monday:

"RELIEVED, BUT…"

The left-wing Libération wrote on its front page Monday morning that France is "relieved, but ... ." the National Front still achieved its best results ever with a record 6.8 million of votes, or 28% of the total. "Not really a victory, not really a defeat," the daily continues about the far-right party's results. Although this shows once again the party's limits in national elections — what Le Monde calls its "glass ceiling" preventing it from moving beyond first-round victories — such figures could bolster Marine Le Pen in a probable presidential candidacy in 2017.

"DEFEAT FOR ALL"

Catholic daily La Croix chose to emphasize on its front page Monday the fact that Sunday's results symbolized a "defeat for all," and not only for the National Front. There is "no triumphalism on either side," the newspaper writes. It also quotes Prime Minister Manuel Valls warning that "the far right threat is not gone," and former President Nicolas Sarkozy stressing that these results "must not let us forget the warning we received in the first round."

"A CITIZEN SURGE"

Far-left daily L'Humanitéwrotethat the far-right defeat represented a victory for a "republican front" for which the left "paid the full price," with the loss of almost half the regions it headed in favor of the center-right. "It's a rectification shift from the first round, in the form of a citizen burst to stand in the way of the National Front," the newspaper writes.

It was above all a "tactical" victory that was confirmed by the daily Le Courrier Picard, located in a region that was highly threatened by the far right and that dedicated its front page Monday to this "Republican Surge."

"A REPUBLICAN SURGE"

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Geopolitics

For Erdogan, Blocking Sweden's NATO Bid Is Perfect For His Reelection Campaign

Turkey's objections to Swedish membership of NATO may mean that Finland joins first. And as he approaches an election at home, Turkish President Erdogan is playing the game to his advantage.

For Erdogan, Blocking Sweden's NATO Bid Is Perfect For His Reelection Campaign

January 11, 2023, Ankara (Turkey): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the International Conference of the Board of Grievances on January 11.

Turkish Presidency / APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — This story has all the key elements of our age: the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the excessive ambitions of an autocrat, the opportunism of a right-wing demagogue, Islamophobia... And at the end, a country, Sweden, whose NATO membership, which should have been only a formality, has been blocked.

Last spring, under the shock of the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin's Russia, Sweden and Finland, two neutral countries in northern Europe, decided to apply for membership in NATO. For Sweden, this is a major turning point: the kingdom’s neutrality had lasted more than 150 years.

Turkey's President Erdogan raised objections. It demanded that Sweden stop sheltering Kurdish opponents in its country. This has nothing to do with NATO or Ukraine, but everything to do with Erdogan's electoral agenda, as he campaigns for the Turkish presidential elections next May.

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