Sunday, June 11

Sunday, June 11

LANDSLIDE INCOMING? MACRON SLATED TO WIN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION After winning the presidential election with two-thirds of the vote last month,

LANDSLIDE INCOMING?

MACRON SLATED TO WIN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION

Photo: Etienne Laurent/EPA

Photo: Etienne Laurent/EPA

After winning the presidential election with two-thirds of the vote last month, Emmanuel Macron and his En Marche movement are poised for another resounding victory in the first round of parliamentary elections today.

Pollsters predict Macron’s movement to secure between 350 and 400 out of 577 seats up for grabs. If this eventuates, the new president will have the biggest majority since President Jacques Chirac in 2002.

While these expectations are partly explained by Macron’s ability to reach out to politicians from across the political spectrum, the country’s opposition is exceptionally weak—the Socialists, which ruled for the past 5 years, may secure as few as 15 seats.

Securing a legislative majority will allow Macron’s En Marche to more easily pursue and enact labour reforms, cuts to corporation taxes and public spending cuts.

The second and final round of the election will be held on June 18.

Delve deeper: Why France’s Macron needs to win a legislative majority

LOCAL ELECTIONS IN ITALY

MATTEO RENZI EYES A COMEBACK

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Italians will vote in the first round of local elections Sunday ahead of a likely early general election. Former PM Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the populist, Eurosceptic Five Star Movement (M5S) will compete for mayoral and city council seats across the country.  Runoffs are slated for June 25.

Mr Renzi resigned last December following the landslide defeat of his proposed constitutional reforms in a referendum. With M5S emboldened by the referendum and past local breakthroughs, the ex-PM will hope Sunday’s results signal a comeback.

The two biggest prizes are Genoa and Palermo. The PD handily won Genoa’s mayoralty in 2012, but now faces challenges from M5S and the centre-right. A big increase in the M5S vote share in Palermo could suggest populist gains among Sicilians, 72% of whom rejected Mr Renzi’s reforms in last year’s referendum.

With Mr Renzi eager for redemption and M5S believing they have winning momentum, both want an election once a new voting system is agreed on. With polling neck-and-neck, Sunday’s contests will be scrutinised for hints of who has the edge. A strong centre-right showing could foreshadow another ex-PM’s comeback as kingmaker between the two: scandal-prone billionaire Silvio Berlusconi.

THE 51st STATE?

PUERTO RICO VOTES ON JOINING THE US

Photo: Wikimedia

Photo: Wikimedia

Puerto Ricans will vote today on whether they would like the territory to become the 51st US state. The non-binding referendum, a key campaign pledge of Governor Ricardo Rosello, comes amid years of financial woe for the American island territory.

Advocates argue that statehood would give Puerto Ricans full political rights, including full representation in Congress and a vote for president. They also claim that a state would receive more money from Washington, allowing for increased infrastructure spending and health care funding.

But opponents argue that statehood would only exacerbate Puerto Rico’s financial headaches. The territory, nearly $70 billion in debt, declared bankruptcy in May following a decade-long recession. Statehood would complicate matters–US states cannot declare bankruptcy. Already struggling, Puerto Ricans would have to start paying US federal income tax, adding to their fiscal burden.

Polling shows an endorsement of statehood is likely to prevail in Sunday’s referendum.  However, the vote has no legal weight, and boycott-promoting opponents likely won’t accept the result as representative. Nor will Washington Republicans, who believe a state of Puerto Rico would send more Democrats to Congress.