US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. Moralizer in Chief? (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Americans are open to candidates of faith. Less so to any hint they might impose their moral views if they're elected, argues Kimberley A. Strassel.

2. Gulf War III isn't an option (Washington Post)

Attacking Iran would not be a wise move, writes Eugene Robinson.

3. Obama's Iran options (Washington Post)

If negotiations fail, containment will not work, says Michael Gerson.

4. Santorum's faith is too extreme (Boston Globe) ($)

Although Rick Santorum says he's not running for pastor-in-chief, the Republican primary campaign has revealed a candidate too governed by faith to lead a diverse country, argues Scot Lehigh.

5. The enduring fallacy of the CEO president (Politico)

Is it safe to assume that a successful CEO is uniquely prepared to be president? Asks John Paul Rollert.

6. America Is Europe (New York Times)

The U.S. does not have a significantly smaller welfare state than the European nations. We're just better at hiding it, writes David Brooks.

7. In praise of war correspondents (Los Angeles Times)

The deaths of Marie Colvin, Anthony Shadid and other journalists is tragic. But to pull back from war zones would leave untold the stories that must be chronicled, says Timothy M. Phelps.

8. Romney's tax plan follows Reagan's vision (Washington Examiner)

Mitt Romney took an immensely positive step earlier this week when he announced a proposal to cut tax rates 20 percent for all individual taxpayers, says this editorial.

9. The elderly should share the burden (Tampa Bay Times)

One hallmark of the Obama administration's budget policy has been to exempt the elderly from major cuts, writes Robert Samuelson.

10. Marriage equality working way toward Supreme Court (San Francisco Chronicle)

Courtrooms across the country are sending an unmistakable message: Laws barring equal treatment of same sex couples are unconstitutional, says this editorial.

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French presidential election: Macron and Le Pen projected to reach run-off

The centrist former economy minister and the far-right leader are set to contest the run-off on 7 May.

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will contest the run-off of the French presidential election, according to the first official projection of the first-round result.

Macron, the maverick former economy minister, running under the banner of his centrist En Marche! movement, is projected to finish first with an estimated 23.7 per cent of the vote, putting him marginally ahead of Le Pen. The leader of the far-right Front National is estimated to have won 21.7 per cent, with the scandal-hit Républicain François Fillon and the left-winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon tied for third on an estimated 19.5 per cent each. Benoît Hamon, of the governing Socialist Party, is set to finish a distant fourth on just 6.2 per cent. Pollsters Ifop project a turnout of around 81 per cent, slightly up on 2012.

Macron and Le Pen will now likely advance to the run-off on 7 May. Recent polling has consistently indicated that Macron, who at 39 would be the youngest candidate ever to win the French presidency, would probably beat Le Pen with roughly 60 per cent of the vote to her 40. In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, he told Agence France Presse that his En Marche! was "turning a page in French political history", and went on to say his candidacy has fundamentally realigned French politics. "To all those who have accompanied me since April 2016, in founding and bringing En Marche! to life, I would like to say this," he told supporters. " 'In the space of a year, we have changed the face of French political life.' "

Le Pen similarly hailed a "historic" result. In a speech peppered with anti-establishment rhetoric, she said: "The first step that should lead the French people to the Élysée has been taken. This is a historic result.

"It is also an act of French pride, the act of a people lifting their heads. It will have escaped no one that the system tried by every means possible to stifle the great political debate that must now take place. The French people now have a very simple choice: either we continue on the path to complete deregulation, or you choose France.

"You now have the chance to choose real change. This is what I propose: real change. It is time to liberate the French nation from arrogant elites who want to dictate how it must behave. Because yes, I am the candidate of the people."

The projected result means the run-off will be contested by two candidates from outside France's establishment left and right parties for the first time in French political history. Should Le Pen advance to the second round as projected, it will mark only the second time a candidate from her party has reached the run-off. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, reached the second round in 2002, but was decisively beaten by Jacques Chirac after left-wingers and other mainstream voters coalesced in a so-called front républicain to defeat the far right.

Fillon has conceded defeat and backed Macron, as have Hamon and the French prime minister, Bernard Cazeneuve. "We have to choose what is best for our country," Fillon said. "Abstention is not in my genes, above all when an extremist party is close to power. The Front National is well known for its violence and its intolerance, and its programme would lead our country to bankruptcy and Europe into chaos.

"Extremism can can only bring unhappiness and division to France. There is no other choice than to vote against the far right. I will vote for Emmanuel Macron. I consider it my duty to tell you this frankly. It is up to you to reflect on what is best for your country, and for your children."

Though Hamon acknowledged that the favourite a former investment banker – was no left-winger, he said: "I make a distinction between a political adversary and an enemy of the Republic."

Mélenchon, however, has refused to endorse Macron, and urged voters to consult their own consciences ahead of next month's run-off.

The announcement sparked ugly scenes in Paris in the Place de la Bastille, where riot police have deployed tear gas on crowds gathered to protest Le Pen's second-place finish. Reaction from the markets was decidedly warmer: the euro hit a five-month high after the projection was announced.

Now read Pauline Bock on the candidate most likely to win, and the NS'profiles of Macron and Le Pen.

 

Patrick Maguire writes about politics and is the 2016 winner of the Anthony Howard Award.

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