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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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Europe's rising COVID cases require new action; tragedy in France

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe:

What is happening with COVID in Europe?

Well, we see infections on the rise virtually everywhere. It looks particularly bad at the moment in Czech Republic, in Belgium. Doesn't look good in France and Spain. Neither does it in the United Kingdom, by the way. But it has to be said, it's all over the place. So, we'll see new advice of a rather strong nature by authorities. We see regulation sometimes, we see restaurants closing down earlier, and things like that. Let's just hope for the best. So far, deaths are fairly limited so far.

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Failing the Sahel

A steady increase of violence in the Sahel region of Africa over the past eight years has imposed fear and hardship on millions of the people who live there. It has also pushed the governments of Sahel countries to work together to fight terrorists.

The region's troubles have also captured the attention of European leaders, who worry that if instability there continues, it could generate a movement of migrants that might well dwarf the EU refugee crisis of 2015-2016.

But is Europe helping to make things better?

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Europe offers support to Beirut; all eyes on Lukashenko's election

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe:

How will Europe help with the catastrophe in Beirut?

You will see Europe mobilizing quite a lot of help. President Macron of France rushed there. That's natural due to the historical links between France and Lebanon, but also the European Commission and other countries are now mobilizing quite substantially. We are nearby. We have an interest in helping them.

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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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