Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Meanwhile, across the Channel and the Atlantic...

Three days ago, the second round of France's momentous 2017 Presidential election ended, with centrist Emmanuel Macron of the En Marche! movement defeating Front National's Marine Le Pen by the wide margin of 66.1% to 33.9% (although this is not as wide as the margin by which Jacques Chirac defeated Marine's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, back in 2002). Marine Le Pen finished ahead in only two departments, which unsurprisingly were in the north of France; one covered the key port of Calais.

Like in 2002, the second round was a foregone conclusion, as voters rallied round to stop the extremist Mme. Le Pen from winning, and it succeeded. However, M. Macron's desire to 'reform' the French economy sparked protests the same day he was confirmed as winner of the said French Presidential election; M. Macron is a former banker and in league with wealthy elites in practice, and therefore is not as 'progressive' as some have imagined.

Two days later, the Canadian province of British Columbia, the only Canadian province to have a Pacific coastline, held its general election which became a tight race between the NDP, Liberals, and Greens. In the end, the Liberals emerged victorious but their vote share was less than 1% greater than the NDP's. The Green Party did make a breakthrough, winning 3 seats, a record in Canadian provincial elections thus far, but because of FPTP their excellent vote share of 16.75% did not translate into as many seats as they hoped for (there are 87 seats in the British Columbian Assembly). This historic high, which was achieved even though the Green Party of British Columbia did not field a full slate (four provincial ridings had no Green candidate, which were Peace River North, Peace River South, Skeena, and Stikine) will nevertheless boost morale in other provinces, and lead to the Canadian Greens having their own surge in the same way the NDP once had. Only a few seats changed hands and the competitiveness of the election dampened the vote swings considerably, but the Liberal government lost enough seats for the Greens to have the balance of power; the Liberals have 43 seats, the NDP have 41, and the Greens now have 3. This should lead to British Columbia taking stronger action on environmental measures, especially given the biodiversity of the Gulf Islands and other nearby islands.

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