By Gideon Rachman
Europe is in a race against time. After six years of economic crisis, extremist political parties are well-entrenched across the continent. Set against that, the European economy is in better shape than for some years. The question is whether economic optimism can return quickly enough to prevent the bloc’s politics slithering over the edge.
By Gideon Rachman
Read the headlines about political extremism on the march in the European papers this morning and you might conclude that Europe is succumbing to political hysteria. But the biggest danger is not actually hysteria, it is complacency. It is highly likely that, when Europe’s leaders meet on Tuesday night, they will attempt to shrug off the results of the European elections and retreat into politics as usual. That would be a big mistake – possibly a fatal one.
France’s increasingly assertive extreme right has provoked new outrage with the publication on Wednesday of a magazine cover comparing Christiane Taubira, the (black) justice minister, to a monkey.
The country’s mainstream parties, otherwise at each others’ throats in the current fraught political climate, united to condemn Minute, which splashed a picture of Ms Taubira alongside the caption: “Clever as a monkey, Taubira gets her banana back.”
(In French slang, banana means a smile.)
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault demanded legal action against the magazine, a call quickly followed by the opening of a preliminary inquiry by the Paris courts, while Manuel Valls, interior minister in the socialist government, said he was investigating the possibility of blocking its distribution. Jean-Francois Copé, leader of the centre right UMP party, backed the government’s stance. Read more
♦ The US federal government is shut down and within days of default on Treasury debt but it is still just possible the whole farrago could turn into good news for the US economy, says Robin Harding.
♦ Iran’s stock market soars but this is partly down to a lack of investment opportunities in other sectors of the stagnant economy.
♦ For those following the negotiations in the US, the New Yorker has compiled a Conservatives’ guide to rhetoric.
♦ A decisive victory by the National Front in Brignoles, France, on Sunday night has set alarm bells ringing in Paris that the far-right party led by Marine Le Pen will repeat the feat more widely in municipal elections.
♦ The New York Times takes a journey through the heartlands of Russia – the Russia being left behind.
♦ For the last edition of the International Herald Tribune, Thomas Fuller looks back at his years reporting in Asia – the lands of charm and cruelty. Read more
Marine Le Pen. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
The first round of France’s parliamentary polls on Sunday provided another good election night for the Le Pen family.
Not only did Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right National Front, win an impressive 42 per cent of the vote to take a clear lead in the race to capture the Henin-Beaumont constituency in the north of the country: down south in the Vaucluse department, her niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen also took the lead in her seat, outscoring Jean-Michel Ferrand, the incumbent centre-right UMP deputy, and the socialist candidate, with 35 per cent of the vote. Read more