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Will Macron’s moves regain him popularity in France?
Will Macron’s moves regain him popularity in France? | Europe In :60

Will Macron’s moves regain him popularity in France?

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics.

Will President Macron, with his new government, succeed in relaunching himself in terms of popularity? It remains to be seen, but I think the odds are there. He clearly faces an uphill battle against the more nationalist forces in Le Pen prior to the European Parliament elections in late May, early June. And that is critical for him. His opinion poll standing is fairly low right now. He really needs to do better in European Parliament elections. And I think, yep, he might do it, but it remains to be seen.
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Luisa Vieira

The Graphic Truth: French Parliamentary districts overseas

For citizens of most democracies, moving overseas usually means losing some political representation back home. For example, Americans abroad can still vote in their home states – but it’s not as though any senators or representatives feel particularly beholden to the expat constituency.

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French protests strengthen the far right & far left
French protests strengthen the far-right & far-left | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

French protests strengthen the far right & far left

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Venice, Italy, on the French protests and Boris Johnson's Partygate fallout.

What's really happening in France?

It's a very difficult situation. Protests all over the place. The political landscape is fractured. What's going to happen in the National Assembly is everyone's guess. And it is, for the moment, strengthen both the far right and the far left, with the center of French politics imploding. Difficult situation for Macron. Let's hope that he gets through it.

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French President Emmanuel Macron.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: A big day for Macron, Taiwan’s friend list, Russia droning on

A tense France waits

It’s a big day for French President Emmanuel Macron. After months of protests, strikes, and piling up trash, the National Assembly is set to decide on whether – and how – to vote on the president’s very unpopular pension reform plan, which would raise the national retirement age by two years to 64. (For a reminder of what’s at stake with this reform, why Macron says it is necessary, and why two-thirds of French despise it, see our explainer here.)

With only a slim majority in the lower house, Macron’s bloc needs support from at least some center-right lawmakers from Les Republicains to see this through, but it is still unclear if he’ll have the numbers, particularly since some of his own coalition members say they won't back the bill.

Macron now faces a very tough choice: call for a vote and risk losing the fight over his biggest domestic priority, which would see him turned into a lame duck president for the remainder of his five-year term. Or trigger a constitutional loophole that would rush the bill through without a vote but risk setting the streets on fire. If he chooses the latter, unions warn, his government will pay a hefty price...

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Russian service members drive tanks during drills held by the armed forces in the Rostov region, Russia.

REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov

What We’re Watching: Launch of Russian offensive, China-Iran talks, Macron’s midnight deadline

The Russian offensive has begun

After much speculation about Russia’s next military steps, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that Russia has begun a new offensive in Ukraine. "We see how they are sending more troops, more weapons, more capabilities,” he said during a press conference in Brussels. Russia’s immediate goal, according to Eurasia Group analysis, is to gradually overwhelm outnumbered Ukrainian forces and take full control of the so-called Donbas region of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, two of the Ukrainian regions Russia annexed last September. The early timing of this new escalation suggests Russia hopes to make significant gains before powerful new weapons sent by the West arrive in Ukraine. It’s also possible that Ukrainian forces will respond to Russia’s incremental escalation by trying not only to repel Russian attacks but to advance south to cut the land bridge Russian forces established last year between the Donbas region and Crimea. The bottom line: This new Russian offensive will offer the first true test of military strength since Moscow mobilized 300,000 more troops last fall. The world will learn a lot about whether the Russian army has greatly improved its training, weaponry, and ability to coordinate a large-scale operation.

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A protester near the Invalides during a demonstration against the government's pension reform plan in Paris

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

What We’re Watching: An encore for French protesters, Zelensky’s growing wish list, Weah’s reelection bid

Round Two: French pension reform strikes

For the second time in a month, French workers held mass protests on Tuesday against the government’s proposed pension reform, which would raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. Organized by the country’s eight big trade unions, authorities say as many as 1.27 million protesters hit the streets nationwide, bringing Paris to a standstill and closing schools throughout France. (Unions say the number was higher.) Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron is sticking to his guns, saying that incrementally raising the national retirement age by 2030 is crucial to reducing France’s ballooning deficit. (Currently, 14% of France’s public spending goes toward its pension program – the third-highest of any OECD country.) But for Macron, this is about more than just economics; his political legacy is on the line. Indeed, the ideological chameleon came to power in 2017 as a transformer and tried to get these pension reforms done in 2019, though he was ultimately forced to backtrack. But as Eurasia Group Europe expert Mujtaba Rahman points out, protesters’ “momentum is the key” and could determine whether legislators from the center-right back Macron or get swayed by the vibe on the street. This would force him to go at it alone using a constitutional loophole, which never makes for good politics. More demonstrations are planned for Feb.7 and Feb. 11.

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Russia's resilient economy won't fall apart anytime soon
Russia's Resilient Economy Won't Fall Apart Anytime Soon | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Russia's resilient economy won't fall apart anytime soon

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

How badly has the Russian economy been affected from the war in Ukraine?

Well, I mean, badly in the sense that half of Russian military capabilities, uh, in terms of things like ammunition and ballistic missiles and, you know, even standing army that's capable has been chewed up by a year of war. So Russia is gonna have to now rebuild that, and that does mean that their exports to other countries, they were the second largest defense export in the world, is gonna seriously take a hit. But near-term, less than 4% GDP contraction in 2022, which means that Russia's position of having all of these critical resources that everyone else in the world still really needs gives them a lot of resilience in terms of their economy. They're not gonna fall apart any time soon.

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French President Emmanuel Macron.

Reuters

Macron’s big gamble

Some things are sacred in France: buying fresh bread daily, offering a “bonjour” – always – before conversing with someone, maintaining the right to an early retirement.

President Emmanuel Macron is not seeking to interfere with French carbohydrate habits or greeting etiquette, but he is taking a political gambit on trying to reform the French pension system.

What’s he proposing? Nine months after winning a rare second term as president, Macron’s government this week laid out a plan for incrementally raising the national retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030. As a sweetener, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced a monthly increase of €100 ($107) for the minimum state pension, on top of additional perks for those who do physically taxing work or entered the workforce young.

To an outsider, it doesn’t seem like the biggest deal: In order to access a “full” pension, French workers will need to have worked for 43 years by 2027, up from 41. But for many, raising the age to 64 – after it was raised from 60 to 62 in 2010 – is a big deal.

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