Macron loses parliamentary majority in stunning setback
French President Emmanuel Macron and his allies have lost their absolute majority in the National Assembly and with it control of the reform agenda – a crushing outcome for the newly re-elected president. Initial projections showed Macron’s centrist Ensemble! alliance was set to end up with the most seats in Sunday’s election, followed by the left-wing Nupes bloc – headed by the hard left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon. But Macron and his allies will fall well short of the absolute majority they need to control parliament. Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National made historic gains, on track to win 90 seats. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the outcome a “democratic shock”, while Melenchon told cheering supporters: “The rout of the presidential party is complete and there is no clear majority in sight!” United behind him, left-wing parties were on course to triple their score from the last legislative election, in 2017. But they failed to secure the outright win Melenchon had hoped for. If confirmed, a hung parliament would open up a period of political uncertainty that would require a degree of power-sharing among parties not experienced in France in recent decades.
Colombia has its first left-wing president
Former guerrilla Gustavo Petro was elected the first ever left-wing president of Colombia on Sunday after beating millionaire businessman Rodolfo Hernandez in a tense and unpredictable runoff election.With more than 99.5 per cent of votes counted, Petro – the 62-year-old former mayor of Bogota – held an unassailable lead of more than three points with around 700,000 more votes than 77-year-old Hernandez. “Today is a celebration for the people. Let’s celebrate the first popular victory,” Petro wrote on Twitter. In a Facebook live broadcast, Hernandez said he accepted the result. In another moment of history, environmental activist and feminist Francia Marquez, 40, will become Colombia’s first black woman vice-president.
Popular Party wins majority in Andalusia
Spain’s conservative Popular Party (PP) achieved historic results Sunday in the Spanish region of Andalusia, winning a majority government and blocking out the far-right Vox party. In a surprise sweep, more than 43% of voters supported incumbent PP leader Juan Manuel Moreno. With 97% of the vote counted, the PP won 57 seats – two more than needed to win a majority. The Socialist Party came in second with 31 seats and Vox won 14, up slightly from 12 in 2018.
Europe swelters in record-breaking June heatwave
Spain, France and other western European nations are sweltering under a blistering June heatwave that has sparked forest fires and concerns that such early summer blasts of hot weather will now become the norm. The weather Sunday was the peak of a June heatwave that is in line with scientists’ predictions that such phenomena will now strike earlier in the year thanks to global warming. The French southwestern town of Biarritz, one of the country’s most sought-after seaside resorts, saw its highest all time temperature Saturday of 41 degrees Celsius. Queues of hundreds of people and traffic jams formed outside aquatic leisure parks in France, with people seeing water as the only refuge from the devastating heat. With the River Seine off limits to bathing, scorched Parisians took refuge in the city’s fountains. In a major incident in France, a fire triggered by the firing of an artillery shell in military training in the Var region of southern France was burning some 200 hectares of vegetation. Forest fires in Spain have burned nearly 20,000 hectares of land in the north-west Sierra de la Culebra region. The flames forced several hundred people from their homes, and 14 villages were evacuated. Firefighters were still battling blazes in several other regions, including woodlands in Catalonia.
Prepare to fight and beat Russia in a Third World War
Britain’s top army general has told his troops to prepare to fight and beat Putin’s armies in a European land war. The Mail quotes General Sir Patrick Sanders, who assumed overall command of the British Army this week, warning soldiers “we are the generation that must prepare the Army to fight in Europe once again” as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rocks global stability. In a tub-thumping message to British troops, he wrote: ‘I am the first Chief of the General Staff since 1941 to take command of the Army in the shadow of a land war in Europe involving a continental power… The scale of the enduring threat from Russia shows we’ve entered a new era of insecurity. It is my singular duty to make our Army as lethal and effective as it can be. The time is now and the opportunity is ours to seize.’ It comes as as the head of NATO predicted the war could last for years. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said supplying state-of-the-art weaponry to Ukrainian troops would boost the chance of freeing its eastern region of Donbas from Russian control, Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported. “We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine,” Stoltenberg was quoted as saying. Russia said on Sunday its offensive to win Sievierdonetsk itself was proceeding successfully.
Di Maio accuses own party of ‘immaturity’ over Ukraine
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has accused his own Movimento Cinque Stelle of undermining government efforts to support Ukraine and weakening Rome’s standing within the European Union.His outburst could signal an imminent schism in the group he once led. The internal party feuding also creates problems for Prime Minister Mario Draghi as he faces an important vote in parliament Tuesdayover Ukraine, with some 5-Star members looking to limit Italy from sending further weapons to Kyiv.Italy, like many EU countries, has been dispatching arms to Ukraine to help it battle the Russian assault.
Berlin announces emergency measures after Russian gas cut
Germany will adopt emergency measures to guarantee the supply of gas in the face of recent cuts in Russian supplies, in particular through greater use of coal plants. The German government said that “to reduce gas consumption it is necessary to use less of it to generate electricity. Instead, coal-fired power plants will have to be used more.” The Berlin decision is a reversal of the ruling coalition’s stance, which had promised to phase out coal by 2030.
Girl killed, 3 injured in Washington festival shootings
A 16-year-old girl was killed while an officer and at least two civilians were shot in two separate shooting incidents in Washington DC, in the northwestern area of the capital, near the Moechella Music Festival. After the gunshots there was panic and a general stampede, as documented by the images posted on social networks by those present. Police reported that the injured officer is hospitalised in stable conditions. The Moechella Music Festival included a series of concerts on the occasion of Juneteenth, the new national holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the USA.
‘Crash’ director arrested on sexual assault charges in Italy
Oscar-winning film director and screenwriter Paul Haggis is being detained in Italy on sexual assault and aggravated personal injury charges. Italian police arrested Haggis on Sunday for allegedly raping a woman in Ostuni, in southern Italy, over a period of two days. The woman was found in a local airport, allegedly left by Haggis in the morning despite her “precarious physical and psychological conditions”, according to prosecutors. Airport staff alerted the police and took her to a hospital, Italian media outlets reported.
Ghislaine Maxwell moans about US jail conditions
Disgraced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 60, moaned endlessly about her treatment in a New York jail while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Ahead of her sentencing next Monday (June 28), Maxwell laid out her life while being held in “pre-detention”, during which she was confined in 9ft by 7ft prison cell – a far cry from the lavish homes she lived in while free. She was held for 22 months, following her arrest in July 2020. Now as part of her bid to avoid the maximum 55 year sentence, the Brit has filed a 77-page “sentencing memorandum” to Judge Alison Nathan pleading for mercy. Maxwell also charges wardens filmed her in the shower as they recorded her daily routine.