The euro survives its biggest political test

The euro is safe for now.

France has chosen the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron to be its next president, ending a tumultuous campaign that had undermined the euro and raised real doubts over its continued survival.

Macron captured an estimated 65% of the vote on Sunday, easily defeating the far right populist Marine Le Pen, who had campaigned on pulling France out of the euro, and perhaps even the European Union.

The euro has been under threat from rising populism in Europe, where it remains the most visible symbol of the region’s long experiment with economic integration since the end of World War II.

Nationalist and populist parties, emboldened by Britain’s decision last year to leave the EU, have made the case against the currency in the Netherlands, France, Italy and Greece, among others.

Skeptics bristle at the idea that countries as different as Germany, Italy and Greece should use the same currency, while ceding control of interest rates to the European Central Bank. They also argue that the currency has benefited some member nations, notably Germany, while hampering others and driving up unemployment.

The election of President Trump, who campaigned on an anti-globalization platform, further encouraged European politicians who want to ditch their shared currency and bring the lira, peseta and French franc out of retirement.

Late last year, investors were looking anxiously ahead at a series of elections that could have turned the tide.

Since then, a far right candidate who had floated the idea of a referendum on leaving the EU lost a presidential runoff in Austria. Then in March, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte saw off a far right challenge of his own.

Now French voters have removed the last remaining big political risk for the euro this year. And Italy appears to have dodged early elections that could have favored a populist party.

The relief is obvious. The euro is trading at its highest level in six months.

Still, there are reasons to keep the Champagne on ice. One third of voters in France preferred Le Pen, the scion of an anti-EU political party that was once on the fringe of French politics.

Macron is also a political outsider who formed his own movement — En Marche! — just over a year ago. The former Rothschild banker had served as French economy minister but had never before held elected office.

The establishment, then, has also been rebuked in France. Candidates representing the parties that dominated the country’s political system for decades did not even make the second round of voting in the presidential election.

Macron will now have to prove that he can tackle France’s economic malaise by boosting growth and employment — and he may have to do that without a big majority in parliament. It holds its own elections next month.

If he can get his reforms through, he’ll be in a stronger position to work with Germany and other countries that use the euro to push forward the region’s recovery.

“By pushing for a stronger EU… and the revival of the Franco-German relationship, Macron should give a new impetus to the eurozone and European integration process,” said Marion Amiot, senior economist at Oxford Economics.

The latest sign of Macron’s commitment? At a victory party late on Sunday night, he walked out to the European anthem “Ode to Joy,” rather than its French equivalent “La Marseillaise.”

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French election exit estimates: Macron defeats Le Pen

Marine Le Pen says she has called to congratulate French presidential rival Emmanuel Macron after exit estimates projected a heavy defeat for the far-right candidate.

Initial estimates from CNN’s affiliate BFMTV-Elabe suggest Macron is expected to take 65.9% of the vote, while Le Pen is expected to gain 34.1%.

Security was tight across France as voters cast their ballots on Sunday. with the the last polling stations closing at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET).

Macron cast his ballot in Le Touquet, northern France, while Le Pen voted in Henin-Beaumont.

In the first round two weeks ago, voters rejected representatives of all the traditional mainstream political parties in France. Macron and Le Pen topped an 11-strong field, taking 24% and 21% of the vote respectively.

Eleventh hour hack

The two-round election, which has played out like something of a soap opera, was hit with another scandal at the eleventh hour, when Macron’s campaign announced it had been the target of a “massive and coordinated” hacking operation.

Around 14.5 gigabytes of emails, personal and business documents were posted to the text-sharing site Pastebin just hours before the campaign period came to a close Friday night.

Macron’s party said the hackers had mixed fake documents with authentic ones “to create confusion and misinformation.” It is not clear who was behind the attack.

Whoever wins will look forward to elections to the national assembly in June. Macron, whose party En Marche! is less than a year old, is starting from scratch. If he does not persuade enough voters to back his candidates, he will have to strike deals with other parties in order to push through his legislative agenda.

Le Pen’s Front National has only two members out of 577 in the national assembly.

Macron, a former investment banker, who also served as economy minister under President Francois Hollande, had struggled to connect with voters in the rural and de-industrialized areas of the country.

Le Pen has also battled to broaden her appeal. At the end of last month she announced that she had temporarily stepped down from her position as leader of the Front National.

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Women in Venezuela dress like Cuban ‘Damas de Blanco’ to march

Women in Venezuela responded to Lilian Tintori’s call to march on Saturday. Their dress code followed the Cuban “Damas de Blanco” demonstrations to protest human rights violations with political prisoners on the Communist island. 

Venezuelans in South Florida followed the demonstrations under the hash tag “Mujeres Contra La Represion,” Spanish for Women Against Repression. The slogan of the protest, Tintori said on social media, was “NO + REPRESIÓN,” no more repression. 

A few of the women on the Francisco Fajardo highway in Caracas decided to go topless. While standing near the Venezuelan National Guard officers in riot gear, witnesses said they shouted in Spanish: “We don’t have rifles, our weapons are our boobs.” A pair of women did the same in Aragua

Tintori is married to Leopoldo López, the leader of President Nicolas Maduro’s opposition. He has been in prison since 2014, and he hasn’t been allowed to see his attorney for 33 days, Tintori said. The women were responding to her call to protest the repression. 

This week Maduro called for a new Constitution. The power grab move came amid a brutal police crackdown that began after the pro-Maduro Supreme Court moved to seize legislative powers. Even Luisa Ortega, Maduro’s attorney general, opposed it and the decision was reversed.  

Unable to silence the demonstrators asking for elections, authorities said the death toll from the protests rused to 37 on Friday. Most of the victims were in their 20s and fire arms were involved in at least a dozen deaths. Maduro’s administration has armed the urban guerrillas that support Chávismo. 

Henrique Capriles, a 44-year-old leader of the opposition, received an order from comptroller general banning him from running for office for 15 years. Capriles read excerpts of the order to a crowd on Friday and shouted a message for Maduro: “The only one who is disqualified here is you.” 

Nikki Haley, the United States  ambassador to the United Nations, released a statement accusing Maduro of “disregard for the fundamental rights of his own people” during the “violent crackdown.”

Videos of the violence on the streets of Venezuela continued to emerge on social media. One showed members of the Venezuelan National Guard attacking medical volunteers. The uniformed agents damaged a red truck with the proper Green Cross insignia. 

 

{“url”:”https://twitter.com/diegoscharifker/status/859934914862604295″,”author_name”:”Diego Scharifker”,”author_url”:”https://twitter.com/diegoscharifker”,”html”:”&#lt;blockquote class=\”twitter-tweet\”&#gt;&#lt;p lang=\”es\” dir=\”ltr\”&#gt;Es difícil no calificar a individuos como estos de verdaderas bestias con uniforme. La podredumbre uniformada y armada de odio, q arrechera! &#lt;a href=\”https://t.co/h4TJzCxx3O\”&#gt;pic.twitter.com/h4TJzCxx3O&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/p&#gt;— Diego Scharifker (@diegoscharifker) &#lt;a href=\”https://twitter.com/diegoscharifker/status/859934914862604295\”&#gt;May 4, 2017&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;\n&#lt;script async src=\”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\” charset=\”utf-8\”&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;”,”width”:550,”height”:null,”type”:”rich”,”cache_age”:”3153600000″,”provider_name”:”Twitter”,”provider_url”:”https://twitter.com”,”version”:”1.0″}

 

One of the volunteers told reporters on Wednesday night that the uniformed agents damaged their property, stole equipment and wounded two volunteers.  They shot tear gas and rubber bullets, the volunteer said. 

Music students were also mourning a recent victim this weekend. Armando Cañizales Carrillo played the viola and the violin. His funeral was on Friday.   
 

 

{“url”:”https://twitter.com/scastellanor/status/860594998651342849″,”author_name”:”Soraya Castellano”,”author_url”:”https://twitter.com/scastellanor”,”html”:”&#lt;blockquote class=\”twitter-tweet\”&#gt;&#lt;p lang=\”es\” dir=\”ltr\”&#gt;Con el “Gloria Bravo Pueblo” el Sistema de Orquesta despidió a Armando Cañizales Carrillo, el joven asesinado por tiranía de &#lt;a href=\”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Maduro?src=hash\”&#gt;#Maduro&#lt;/a&#gt; &#lt;a href=\”https://t.co/DkMofYKVh2\”&#gt;pic.twitter.com/DkMofYKVh2&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/p&#gt;— Soraya Castellano (@scastellanor) &#lt;a href=\”https://twitter.com/scastellanor/status/860594998651342849\”&#gt;May 5, 2017&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;\n&#lt;script async src=\”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\” charset=\”utf-8\”&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;”,”width”:550,”height”:null,”type”:”rich”,”cache_age”:”3153600000″,”provider_name”:”Twitter”,”provider_url”:”https://twitter.com”,”version”:”1.0″}

 

 

{“url”:”https://twitter.com/PMT67/status/860537943395639296″,”author_name”:”Mi Venezuela LIBRE!”,”author_url”:”https://twitter.com/PMT67″,”html”:”&#lt;blockquote class=\”twitter-tweet\”&#gt;&#lt;p lang=\”es\” dir=\”ltr\”&#gt;QUE SE PUEDE DECIR…..HOMENAJE A SU AMIGO Y COMPAÑERO ARMANDO CAÑIZALES CARRILLO &#lt;a href=\”https://t.co/SfDAQ31G4L\”&#gt;pic.twitter.com/SfDAQ31G4L&#lt;/a&#gt; ASESINADO POR EL RÉGIMEN DE MADURO&#lt;/p&#gt;— Mi Venezuela LIBRE! (@PMT67) &#lt;a href=\”https://twitter.com/PMT67/status/860537943395639296\”&#gt;May 5, 2017&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;\n&#lt;script async src=\”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\” charset=\”utf-8\”&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;”,”width”:550,”height”:null,”type”:”rich”,”cache_age”:”3153600000″,”provider_name”:”Twitter”,”provider_url”:”https://twitter.com”,”version”:”1.0″}

 

 

The 18-year-old student wanted to become a doctor like his mother and was shot dead while protesting in the municipality of Baruta. Authorities said he was shot in the neck. The music students played the national anthem in his memory. 

Some supporters of the opposition in Miami-Dade County’s Doral neighborhood continue to hope for a Venezuelan military intervention similar to the 1958 coup that installed democracy for the first time in the oil-rich country.

But before his death in 2013, Hugo Chávez made sure that his loyal allies ruled the military. Maduro’s supporters were concerned after three lieutenants’ recently escaped to Colombia. 

Meanwhile Tintori said she was deeply worried about her husband. She said she and their to children haven’t been able to see Lopez, 46. Maduro’s administration released a short “proof of life” video allegedly shot from the Ramo Verde jail. 

“The only proof of life that we will accept is to see Leopoldo,” she tweeted in response, as she faced a line of National Guard soldiers outside of the prison. 

 

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