Outsiders Le Pen and Macron to face off in French Election

The first round of the French Presidential election, held last Sunday, ended without a majority-winner, as Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will advance to the second round of elections on May 7.

Macron received 24 percent of the total vote, and Le Pen received 21.3 percent. Their two closest competitors, Republican François Fillon and the Left Party’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon received 20 percent and 19.6 percent respectively. In the nearly 60 years of France’s Fifth Republic, this election is the first time that neither of the mainstream political parties, the Socialist Party or The Republicans, have advanced to the final runoff election.

Le Pen is the candidate of the right-wing National Front Party, founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972. However, Le Pen expelled her father from the party in 2015 after his history of appealing to far-right members and statements which minimized the role of the Holocaust in World War II. This week, she also temporarily stepped down as president of the party during the elections.

Macron founded his party, En Marche!, or Forward, in 2016 with the intention of supporting himself and other candidates. The party is known as liberal or centrist, while Macron was previously a member of the center-left Socialist party and later became a political independent.

Although the results of the first-round elections were close, all major competitors except Mélenchon, including both mainstream parties on the center-left and center-right, have publicly supported Macron to oppose Le Pen and her National Front.

Also this week:

…From Local News

The Rhode Island State Ethics Commission found on Tuesday, after a 5-2 vote, that a Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice had probable cause to willfully violate the state ethics code. Judge Francis X. Flaherty, an associate justice, failed to disclose on his financial statements for five years in a row that he was president of the St. Thomas More Society of Rhode Island, a nonprofit Catholic organization, even while presiding over cases concerning the Catholic Church.


The 911 emergency phone system in Rhode Island was disrupted for a period of about an hour on Monday night. From just before 8 p.m. on Monday until almost 9 p.m., callers were unable to hear the dispatcher on the line, and the dispatcher had to attempt to return calls for those who were affected. The cause of the technical issues is still not confirmed.


David Ortiz, retired Red Sox star and three-time World Series champion, will give the commencement address at the New England Institute of Technology on Sunday. Ortiz, affectionately referred to by Red Sox fans as “Big Papi,” will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters for his charity work with children’s health as well as delivering the address at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.


…From National News

In New Orleans, workers started removing four public monuments dedicated to the Confederacy during the Civil War and its legacy during Reconstruction, beginning on Monday. Critics of the monuments opposed what they saw as representations of racism and white supremacist efforts to oppose racial equality, while supporters emphasized the historical significance of the structures.


The Trump Administration has imposed tariffs of up to 24 percent on Canadian lumber imports, after a decision on Monday. The new tariffs, set at different rates which vary by individual firms, are a tax on imported goods which are intended to level the playing field to aid United States firms in competing with cheaper Canadian lumber products. Canada is the United States’ second-largest trading partner.


Harvard researchers working in Chichester, England found a manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence from the 1780s two years ago, and presented their work on uncovering the document’s origins at a conference at Yale University last week. According to a Harvard University press release, the researchers are using handwriting analysis and further testing of the parchment to understand how this handwritten copy of the Declaration, known as the Sussex Declaration, ended up in the United Kingdom.


…From World News

Government officials in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang province of China have explicitly banned parents from giving children any names off a list of so-called “extreme” names of Islamic origin. The banned names include things like “Muhammad,” “Medina” and “Jihad.”  Children who register with such names will be barred from the hukou registration system, which allows access to education and government services.


At the Group of 20 Nations, known as the G-20, Women’s Summit in Berlin, Ivanka Trump received audible disapproval from the audience after defending her father’s attitudes on women and families. While speaking on stage with Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, listeners grumbled after Trump said her father was a “champion of supporting families.”