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Which authoritarian is “best of the worst”? Gideon Rachman's favorite strongman
Which Authoritarian Is “Best of the Worst”? | Gideon Rachman's Favorite Strongman | GZERO World

Which authoritarian is “best of the worst”? Gideon Rachman's favorite strongman

Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs columnist at the Financial Times, has just published a new book about autocrats, so Ian Bremmer puts him on the spot on GZERO World.

Which one appeals to you the most?

"That is difficult. I wouldn't say ... I'm running desperately through my head," says Rachman, before settling on one autocrat he's not a fan of but concedes is at least "an interesting figure."

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French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he arrives to deliver a speech after being re-elected as president.

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Can Macron unite a divided France?

Reflecting on Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France's presidential runoff, Tom McTague, writing for The Atlantic, referred to British PM Winston Churchill’s disdain for another French leader: Charles de Gaulle. Churchill was asked if de Gaulle was a great man. “He is selfish, he is arrogant, he believes he is the center of the world,” Churchill replied. “You are quite right. He is a great man.”

“Something similar might be true of Emmanuel Macron,” wrote McTague.

Macron can afford to be smug about some of his achievements. After all, he is the first French president to win a second term in some 20 years – the French are famous for rejecting incumbents. The 44-year-old centrist, a former banker, has only run for elected office twice – for the presidency in 2017 and 2022 – and he clinched the top job both times.

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Macron celebrates his victory during a rally at the Champ de Mars in Paris.

JB Autissier/Panoramic

Macron beats Le Pen, encore

Sometimes the polls aren’t wrong. On Sunday, centrist French President Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right hopeful Marine Le Pen in a rerun of their 2017 presidential runoff.

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Emmanuel Macron et Marine Le Pen

Frederic Chambert / Panoramic

What We're Watching: Le Pen-Macron debate, round two in Ukraine, China's big Pacific move, Israel-Hamas flare-up

France’s moment of truth: Le Pen and Macron go head-to-head

Ahead of the second round of voting in France’s presidential elections on April 24, President Emmanuel Macron and his rival Marine Le Pen will go head-to-head in a live TV debate on Wednesday. Le Pen, head of the far-right National Rally, won 23% percent of the first-round vote on April 10, just five points behind the incumbent. (Macron’s lead in the polls is now believed to be as much as 12 points.) Indeed, the debate will be a crucial moment in the tighter-than-expected race for the Élysée. Le Pen is vying for a comeback: last time the two candidates debated in the 2017 runoff, she was accused of being light on policy and heavy on insults. Le Pen will want to emphasize her populist, anti-establishment credentials that have proven popular with the electorate – particularly young voters – while playing down claims that she is chummy with alleged war criminal Vladimir Putin. Macron, on the other hand, will try to play up his progressive bonafides to appeal to younger voters who cast their first-round vote for far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon – who reaped 22% of the vote – but are inclined to stay home on Sunday.
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Campaign posters of President Emmanuel Macron and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

Xose Bouzas / Hans Lucas

What if Le Pen leads France?

The results are in from the first round of France’s nail-biter of a presidential election. Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right National Rally, has come in four points behind the incumbent, President Emmanuel Macron, reaping 23.3% percent of the vote, according to Ifop, a pollster.

Meanwhile, France’s far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon came in third with 20% of the vote, while center-right candidate Valerie Pécresse, the first woman to head the party of Charles de Gaulle, flailed.

The world is now anxiously waiting to see what happens in two weeks’ time, when the French return to the polls for the second and final round of voting to decide whether Macron or Le Pen should be sent to the Élysée.

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France's presidential election tightening as first round begins
Macron Likely to Win French Presidential Election | Ukraine Aid | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

France's presidential election tightening as first round begins

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Delphi, Greece:

What's happening with the sanctions and help to Ukraine?

Well, it's moving forward quite heavily, both with now deliveries of more substantial weapons systems, and the key thing, of course, is going to be what happens with the imports of gas if that is stopped. Coal, oil, that's less important, but gas, that's the key thing. And I think we are moving in that direction.

What about the French presidential elections?

Well, we got the first round coming up on Sunday. I think Macron is going to win, but it looks like it's going to be tight. And the drama is going to be more substantial prior to the second decisive round on 25th of April. It's still likely to be Macron, but less money on that than was the case a month ago.

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Paige Fusco

Is this Marine Le Pen’s moment?

French President Emmanuel Macron thought he’d have his reelection in the bag by now.

But days out from the first round of voting, far-right firebrand Marine Le Pen is giving the incumbent a run for his money. Macron is still ahead – with a current poll putting him at 27%, just three and half points ahead of Le Pen. Still, the forecast is not what Macron – an ideological chameleon who has tried very hard to establish himself as Europe’s diplomat in chief – had been expecting.

Why is Marine Le Pen, who once tied her political fortunes to her father Jean-Marie – founder of the National Front Party who’s faced charges for antisemitic and racist rhetoric – doing so well?

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Zelensky addresses the UN Security Council in a video message

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Zelensky at the UN, French race tightens, Sri Lankan crisis worsens

Zelensky wants justice over Russian war crimes

In his first address to the UN Security Council, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said Russians accused of war crimes in Ukraine must be brought to justice, noting that the atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere are the worst Europe has seen since World War II. Prior to Zelensky’s speech, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is working with the UN-backed International Criminal Court to investigate the alleged war crimes. The International Court of Justice has already ordered Russia to cease and desist but has no authority to enforce its ruling. But some argue that pursuing indictments during ongoing conflicts can frustrate efforts toward peace agreements, thereby raising the risk of further atrocities. Meanwhile, the mounting allegations are putting more pressure on Western powers to slap harsher sanctions on Moscow — perhaps even targeting Russian oil and coal by the EU.

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