France’s Le Pen to reform National Front, create ‘new political force’

France’s Le Pen to reform National Front, create ‘new political force’
Marine Le Pen, leader of the French right-wing National Front (FN), said that her party needs a “deep” change become a broader “patriotic” political force after she lost the presidential election to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.

“The National Front… must deeply renew itself in order to rise to the historic opportunity and meet the French people’s expectations,” Le Pen said in a brief address to her supporters shortly after the first projections of the presidential elections’ results were released.

“I will propose to start this deep transformation of our movement in order to make a new political force,” she added, as cited by Reuters.

She went on to say that her result in the presidential elections is historic, despite the defeat, and added that her party would become the main opposition force to Macron. The National Front leader also said that the French political landscape is “split” between the “patriots” and the “globalists” and called on all French “patriots” to join her new political movement.

At the same time, she also said that she was immediately beginning a new election campaign for the parliamentary elections scheduled for the next few months.

Her words were echoed by other National front politicians. Florian Philippot, the party’s deputy president, called Le Pen’s result in the presidential elections “unprecedented” and praised her election campaign.

He also said that the National Front would oppose Macron. At the same time, he admitted that the party needs to change and he said that the new political movement would not be called the National Front. Philippot also called Macron’s success “a victory for the financial oligarchy” in an interview to TF1 TV channel.

In the meantime, National Front founder and Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie le Pen, said that his daughter’s position on the euro and pensions had harmed her campaign. He also accused Philippot, who was one of le Pen’s major advisors, of being responsible for Marine Le Pen’s defeat.

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Putin-Trump meeting must bring specific results, not just symbolic handshake – Lavrov

Putin-Trump meeting must bring specific results, not just symbolic handshake – Lavrov
The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump must be well prepared in order for the first eye-to-eye talks of the Russian and US presidents to bring concrete results, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“As far as I understand, both Washington and Moscow need this meeting not for the sake of impressing somebody and saying: ‘Here’s a sensation. It was prepared for such a long time and now it happened,” Lavrov said in an interview with Mir-24 TV.

According to the Russian FM, the meeting between Putin and Trump is needed for something more than a handshake and an exchange of opinions on bilateral relations and international issues. This stance is shared by both Moscow and Washington, he added.

“Russia and the US have such strong impact on international stability and security that such a meeting will undoubtedly be expected to deliver specific results. In order for that to be achieved, it needs to be prepared thoroughly. We are working on that right now,” he said.

The Russian foreign minister stressed that Moscow isn’t paying much attention to contradictory statements on bilateral relations coming from various American officials, which may be explained by members of the new administration “not yet fully adjusting to each other.”

“We usually focus on the main character in the drama – US President Donald Trump, who highly appreciated [US Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson’s visit to Moscow as well as his own telephone conversation with President Putin, in which he expressed his intention to continue developing efforts to promote common interests in our relations,” Lavrov said.

Putin and Trump talked on the phone Tuesday, discussing the prospects of coordinated anti-terrorism activities in Syria and the situation around North Korea, among other issues.

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The two leaders also spoke in favor of holding their much anticipated first meeting somewhere around the G20 summit, which is scheduled to take place in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7 and 8.

Tillerson visited Russia on April 12 and held talks with both Lavrov and Putin, with Trump saying the secretary of state had done “tremendous work” in Moscow.

In late April, Putin noted that Trump had so far failed to make good on his campaign promises to mend relations with Russia, adding that the level of trust between Moscow and Washington has even “degraded” since Obama left office.

The White House, for its part, recently called “the isolation of Russia in the UN” one of Trump’s main achievements during his first 100 days in office.

In his interview with Mir-24, Lavrov also touched on the issue of the EU sanctions imposed on Russia after it reunited with Crimea and the breakout of the Ukrainian conflict back in 2014.

He stressed that Russia is not in the habit of interfering in the affairs of other nations, and because of that it is not pushing for the removal of restrictions, which put politics above the economic needs of the people and whole countries in Europe.

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“But the tendency toward giving up on this anomaly (sanctions) is, in my opinion, becoming stronger” within the EU, the top Russian diplomat said.

Lavrov again stressed that Russia is eager to resume dialogue with the US-led NATO military bloc, but it should be done on the basis of equality.

The development strategy of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which unites Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, “doesn’t mention that any country or state or organization is our adversary. In contrast, NATO members regard Russia as an enemy or even a threat and attempt to downplay the status and the importance of CSTO activities,” he explained.

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The FM said that NATO’s “project of full absorption of Ukraine into its sphere of interest and including Ukraine into the North Atlantic Alliance, the inclusion of Crimea into their plans of encircling Russia – those plans have failed.”

He expressed regret that “because of an offense over an objective historic fact, they froze everything that united us, including the anti-terrorism battle.”

Emmanuel Macron wins French presidential election over rival Marine Le Pen

Emmanuel Macron, the centrist and political newcomer, on Sunday beat the far-right Marine Le Pen to win the French presidential election.

In a contest that put the passionately pro-European Macron against Le Pen, who promised a “Frexit” referendum should she win the election, Macron garnered 65.5 percent of the vote, according to the Kantar exit poll.

The news of Macron’s win was met by cheering crowds waving French flags outside the Louvre museum.

The result, if confirmed, signals a rejection of the “French-first nationalism of Le Pen, who was labeled “France’s Trump” and was hopeful the same populist wave that led Donald Trump to the White House would also carry her to the Elysee Palace.

Macron’s victory will mark the third time in six months — following elections in Austria and the Netherlands — that European voters have shot down far-right populists who want to restore borders across Europe. The victory of a candidate — Macron — who championed European unity could strengthen the EU’s hand in its complex divorce proceedings with Britain, which voted last year to leave the bloc.

Many French voters reluctantly backed Macron; they are not staunch supporters of his politics, but wanted to keep out Le Pen and her far-right National Front party, which is still tainted by its anti-Semitic and racist history.

After the most closely watched and unpredictable French presidential campaign in recent memory, many voters rejected the choice altogether: Pollsters projected that voters cast blank or spoiled ballots in record numbers Sunday — a protest of both candidates.

At 39, Macron would become France’s youngest-ever president — and one of its most unlikely.

Unknown to voters before his turbulent 2014-16 tenure as a pro-business economy minister, Macron took a giant gamble by quitting the government of outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande to run his first-ever electoral campaign as an independent.

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His startup political movement — optimistically named, “En Marche!,” or “Forward!” — caught fire in just one year, harnessing voters’ hunger for new faces and new ideas and steering France into unchartered political territory.

In a first for postwar France, neither of the mainstream parties on the left or the right qualified in the first round of voting on April 23 for Sunday’s winner-takes-all duel between Macron and Le Pen.

Despite her projected loss, Le Pen’s advancement to the runoff for
the first time marked a breakthrough for the 48-year-old. She placed third in 2012, underscoring a growing acceptance for her fierce anti-immigration, France-first nationalism among disgruntled voters.

The candidates’ polar-opposite visions presented the 47 million registered voters with the starkest possible choice. Le Pen’s closed borders faced off against Macron’s open ones; his commitment to free trade ran against her proposals to protect the French from global economic competition and immigration. Her desire to free
France from the EU and the shared euro currency contrasted with his argument that both are essential for the future of Europe’s third-largest economy.

As well as capitalizing on voter rejection of the left-right

monopoly on power, Macron also got lucky.

One of his most dangerous opponents, conservative former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, was hobbled by allegations that his family benefited from cushy taxpayer-funded jobs for years. On the left, the Socialist Party imploded, its candidate abandoned by voters who wanted to punish Hollande, France’s most unpopular president since World War II. Hollande himself realized he was unelectable and decided not to run again.

In power, Macron would take charge of a nation that, when Britain leaves the EU in 2019, will become the EU’s only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

He has promised a France that would stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin but that also would seek to work with the Russian leader on what he says will be one of his top priorities: fighting the Islamic State group, whose extremists have claimed or
inspired multiple attacks in France since 2015.

France has been in a state of emergency since then and 50,000 security forces were used to safeguard Sunday’s vote.

The polls opened in mainland France at 8 a.m. local time under the watch of 50,000 security forces guarding against possible extremist attacks. Polling agency projections and initial official results are expected as soon as the final stations close at 8 p.m.

Voter turnout in the runoff election is above 65 percent in late afternoon, a sharp drop of more than 6 percent compared to the last presidential vote. The Interior Ministry announced the turnout had reached 65.3 percent, compared to 71.96 percent in the second round of presidential voting in 2012.

Pre-election polls had suggested Macron was the favorite by a large margin, leading Le Pen by about 60 percent to 40 percent.

Police had to evacuate the Louvre courtyard early Sunday because of a suspicious bag, but later reopened the area. Eric Kadio told the Associated Press he came to the park near the Louvre in hopes of seeing Macron, who’s expected to speak to supporters from the Louvre courtyard after election results come in.

“France has an efficient security operation,” he told the AP. “I am not afraid. Bomb scares are frequent and each time they get things under control.”

Earlier in the day, Macron voted in the seaside resort of Le Touquet in northern France alongside his wife, Brigitte Macron. Le Pen cast her ballot just a hundred kilometers away in Henin-Beaumont, a small town controlled by her National Front party.

Fears of outside meddling hung over the race after France’s election campaign commission said Saturday that “a significant amount of data” — and some fake information — was leaked on social networks following the hacking attack on Macron.

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The leaked documents appeared largely mundane, and the perpetrators remain unknown. It’s unclear whether the document dump will dent the large polling lead Macron held over Le Pen going into the vote.

The commission urged French media and citizens not to relay the leaked documents. French electoral laws impose a weekend news blackout on any campaigning and media coverage seen as swaying the election. Le Pen’s campaign could not formally respond due to the blackout.

The Macron team asked the campaign oversight commission to bring in France’s top cybersecurity agency ANSSI to study the hack, a government official told the AP.

ANSSI can only be called in to investigate cyberattacks that are “massive and sophisticated” — and the Macron hack appears to fit the bill, the official said.

The documents leaked Friday were widely circulated on far-right sites based in the United States. Experts dissecting the data said they spotted a couple of Russian names in the dump.

Read more from SkyNews.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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