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The road ahead for Macron is only getting rougher

Back in June, we considered the "rough road ahead" for French President Emmanuel Macron after his political party, La République En Marche (LREM), took a thrashing in local elections. Since then, things have only gotten tougher for the man once hailed as France's centrist savior.

Here's a snapshot of what's on Macron's plate at home, and what comes next.

Terrorism: France is grappling with a resurgence of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists. The gruesome beheading of a high school teacher on the outskirts of Paris last month, followed by a deadly rampage at a church in the southern city of Nice several days later, sent shockwaves through a country that has lost more of its people to terror attacks in recent years than any other Western country.

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What We're Watching: Macron's troubles, Indian election, US-China defense talks

Emmanuel Macron in trouble: These are trying times for Emmanuel Macron, as the French president suddenly finds himself dealing with three major crises at once. First, France is currently reeling from a massive second wave of coronavirus, which has forced Macron to order a second national lockdown. Second, he is facing rising social tensions at home over the (long-fraught) question of integration into French society, after an Islamic beheaded a teacher who had shown derogatory images of the Prophet Mohammed as part of a lesson on free speech. The killing of three people outside a Nice church by a knife-wielding man of Tunisian origin yesterday heightened the sense of crisis. Lastly, Macron is facing a backlash from much of the Muslim world over his controversial comments in response to the teacher's murder, in which he pledged to crack down on extremism but also seemed to target Islam in general. There have been anti-French protests across the Muslim world, and several countries have called for a boycott of French goods. Macron doesn't face voters again until 2022, but he's already had to reset his presidency a few times. And his rivals — particularly from the far right, anti-immigrant National Rally party— may start to smell blood in the water.

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What We're Watching: A Polish rainbow, Macron in Lebanon, Bolsonaro must protect indigenous communities

A Polish rainbow: When Poland's ultra-conservative president Andrzej Duda was sworn in for his second term on Thursday, he was greeted by a show of colors, as members of the opposition coordinated their outfits to reflect the rainbow flag that symbolizes solidarity with the gay community. Duda, an ally of the nationalist ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, who beat Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski by a hair, made gay rights a major political issue in the campaign, repeatedly denouncing "LGBT ideology," as a threat to the nation. Meanwhile, several rural Polish towns that support PiS have declared themselves "LGBT free," prompting infuriated officials in Brussels to threaten to withhold EU funding. Indeed, this episode is just the latest flashpoint in the worst culture war in Poland since the end of the Cold War.

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A rough road ahead for Emmanuel Macron

In 2017, when Emmanuel Macron won 66 percent of the vote to become France's youngest-ever president, he was a relatively unknown figure in French politics. Macron, who spent most of his career as an investment banker, had never before run for office and had served only a brief stint as an advisor to former President Francois Hollande before becoming his economy minister.

An incumbent's first term in office usually defines his political identity and policy agenda. But three years into a five-year term, do we know Emmanuel Macron, what he stands for — or who he stands for — any more than we did in 2017?

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What We're Watching: Latin America's deepening recession, DRC beats Ebola, Macron's next move

Latin America's economic pain: Back in April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that the pandemic would push Latin America into its worst recession in half a century, plunging a third of the population into poverty. That, it turns out, was the rosy view. The IMF now says, "the human toll has gone up," projecting that the region's economy will contract by 9.4 percent in 2020, a sharp drop from April's forecast of a 5.2 percent recession. Government-mandated lockdowns and travel restrictions have hit emerging market economies in the Caribbean and Latin America particularly hard because many of them rely on jobs in the informal sector and tourism industry to keep afloat. Taken with the effects of shutdowns in China, Europe, and the US, which have cratered demand for Latin America's exports while also decimating remittances, the region's economic recovery could take many years.

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