A disquieting situation in Europe

Dhaka,  Sun,  23 July 2017
Published : 21 Apr 2017, 20:03:07
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OPINION

A disquieting situation in Europe

Mohammad Amjad Hossain from Virginia, USA
The presidential election in France has emerged disquieting for the European Union. But it will be a blessing for the Russian Federation if Marine Le Pen, a far-right popular French presidential candidate, wins the election next Sunday in the primary poll to be followed by general election in May this year. This impression has arisen from participation of large crowd in her campaign trail in France recently of National Front Party which she represents. Le Pen is reportedly against immigration, European Union, Euro currency and xenophobic as well. She draws criticism from her rivals in France and Israel after she downplayed the French role in the Holocaust. 

Marine Le Pen had been to Moscow on March 24 and assured President Vladimir Putin that the economic sanctions against Russia would be withdrawn if her party wins the election, apart from closer cooperation between two countries on counter-terrorism. There is a speculation that election in France will also be manipulated by Russia, hacking information of opposition parties. Incidentally, Le Pen is now under investigation for using money from the European Union for Thierry Legier as her bodyguard. A member of European Parliament in Brussels, she was paid some 41,554 Euros as per contract for Legier after she submitted 'fictional work contract' presenting him as an assistant although he was living near Paris and working for National Front Party of which Le Pen is a leader. Le Pen denied the allegation and considered the investigation as politically motivated. 

Another conservative candidate Francois Fillon, former French Prime Minister, is recovering from a nepotism scandal. He has been charged by a newspaper recently that his wife was paid as assistant for over a decade while she never once appeared at French Parliament but she received as much as 600,000 Euros to work as public office assistant. 

Of the four presidential candidates Emmanuel Marcon, head of Political Movement Party ( En Marche), who resigned as Economic Minister in August last year, is making progress in election campaign. He is a fan of German chancellor Angela Merkel for her steadfast role in immigration policy. 

According to the latest polls, Le Pen is likely to become the winner on April 23 because women voters are increasingly supporting her candidature against the backdrop of attack on her office headquarters in Paris by pro-Xenophobic group on April 13. No one was injured but it caused minor damage to the building. Le Pen, however, blamed leftist groups for the attack. 

French police arrested on April 19 two French men Mahiedine M and Clement B, who are French citizens but radicalised with ideology of ISIS on a charge of planning violent disruption on April 23 and May 29 presidential election in France. The police found in their hideout firearms and ammunition as well. The country in fact has been under emergency since November of 2015 following terrorist attacks that killed 130 French people. 

As of now, France's tumultuous election campaign has become increasingly tense as the gap among the candidates has shrunk while investors are worried because two candidates are holding anti-EU and anti-Euro opinion as well. 

It will be very interesting to see the results of the election in France no matter which way the winds blow. 

(The writer is a retired Bangladeshi diplomat. Email: amjad.21@gmail.com)



 
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