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After green wave in local elections, is Frances left back on track?

Nationwide local elections on Sunday in France saw a green wave wash through Marseille, Lyon, Strasb..

Nationwide local elections on Sunday in France saw a green wave wash through Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg and Bordeaux, while Socialist incumbents scored re-election in Paris, Nantes, Lille and Rennes. The results breathe new hope into the left on the national stage after a long spell in French political purgatory.

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Suddenly, leftists in France are allowed to dream again. After winning the day in most major French cities on Sunday in run-off elections long-delayed by the coronavirus outbreak, leftists could let themselves forget, at least for one election night, their historic losses in 2017.

That spring, centrist newcomer Emmanuel Macron – who had served as an Élysée Palace advisor to Socialist incumbent François Hollande and then as his economy minister – completed his meteoric rise to the presidency. But the Socialist candidate, Benoît Hamon, allied with the green Europe Écologie-Les Verts (EELV) party, crashed out of the presidential election's first round on an anonymous 6.36 percent of the vote in a thundering defeat for the leftist mainstream. The Socialist Party lost a monumental 250 seats in the legislative polls that followed, while EELV were swept out of the lower-house National Assembly altogether.

But the greens had little to envy of rivals on Sunday night. While EELV had run only one major city in France, Grenoble, after the last local elections in 2014, the party chalked up one City Hall after another in this election: Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux (a conservative bastion for 73 years), Tours, Annecy, Besançon, Poitiers and, pending a vote by freshly elected city councillors on Friday, perhaps even Marseille.

Never had France's greens known such success at the municipal ballot box. A year after their strong showing in 2019's European Parliament elections – on a night that saw a green wave sweep across the European Union – the ecologists' newfound status at the heart of the left-wing is now well-established.

The EELV candidates' glittering performances are all the more spectacular knowing they were, for the most part, not household names and that they won, most often, against alliances formed between the conservative Les Républicains and Macron's centrist La République en Marche party.

Few, even among EELV brass, would have wagered on Pierre Hurmic winning Bordeaux against one such alliance and toppling an incumbent long-allied with conservative former prime minister Alain Juppé, who ran the city for 22 years.

In Strasbourg, too, the greens could legitimately fear that the centrist-conservative alliance might get the better of the first-round lead they had built way back in March, especially after not managing to seal an alliance with the Socialists locally. But EELV's Jeanne Barseghian crushed the competition, winning the eastern French city for the greens by eight points.

"What won was a desire for concrete ecology, in action, that proposes solutions for commuting, housing, food, how to rebuild local economies," green MEP Yannick Jadot, who led the EELV list in last year's EU elections, told TF1 on Sunday.

Commonalities over differences

But beyond the so-called green wave on Sunday night, a closer look at the ecology candidates' wins shows that they were made possible by alliances forged with the Socialist Party, the far-left La France Insoumise, the French Communist Party and ex-Socialist Hamon's Génération.s party.

Alone, EELV was vulnerable to defeat, as in Lille where green candidate Stéphane Baly missed out by a handful of votes on winning City Hall away from Socialist heavyweight Martine Aubry.

"Between now and 2022, for the mid-terms in between, let's continue to cultivate what we have in common, more than dogmatic differences," said EELV party chief Julien Bayou. The greens leader likely had in mind the case of EELV candidate Michèle Rubirola in Marseille. She was initially suspended from the party for having refused its logic to go it alone, before eliciting support after topping the first-round vote in March on the strength of left-wing alliances.

The Socialist Party, too, had a very good night. Anne Hidalgo won re-election in Paris, while Socialist incumbents also prevailed in cities such as Nantes, Rennes, Dijon and Le Mans, and the party won City Hall away from an ex-Socialist in Montpellier.

"You've chosen hope, you've chosen rally, you've chosen a breathing Paris, a united city where no one is left behind," said Anne Hidalgo after being re-elected mayor of Paris pic.twitter.com/GzL7h6Tsd6

— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) June 28, 2020

Sunday nights' results also vindicate Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure who, since taking the helm in 2018, has championed left-wingers joining forces. With two years to go before the next presidential electioRead More – Source

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Green, left-wing Michèle Rubirola becomes Marseilles first woman mayor

Issued on: 05/07/2020 – 11:00Modified: 05/07/2020 – 11:01

Marseille became the latest French munic..

Issued on: 05/07/2020 – 11:00Modified: 05/07/2020 – 11:01

Marseille became the latest French municipality to elect a Green mayor on Saturday, in a wave that has swept the country since local elections at the end of last month.

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Michèle Rubirola, the first female leader of Frances second city, won the most votes from city councillors, ending almost a week of suspense after the June 28 poll that failed to give her slate an absolute majority.

Rubirola, of the Read More – Source

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Italy could transfer migrants from Ocean Viking rescue ship on Monday

Issued on: 05/07/2020 – 10:07Modified: 05/07/2020 – 10:16

Italy is carrying out tests on 180 migra..

Issued on: Modified:

Italy is carrying out tests on 180 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean with a view to transferring them to a quarantine vessel in Sicily, an interior ministry source said Saturday.

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The migrants have been on the Ocean Viking ship operated by SOS Mediterranee for over a week, with fights and suicide attempts on board prompting the charity to declare a state of emergency on Friday.

A medical team sent by authorities in Pozzallo, Sicily “ascertained the absence of particular health problems and also reported that some tensions that had been registered on the ship are being overcome”, the ministry source said.

The medical team is testing the migrants for the Covid-19 virus after which they will be transferred to a quarantine ship currently in Porto Empedocle, also in Sicily.

“The situation is carefully monitored in view of the transhipment of migrants, scheduled for Monday 6 July, on the Moby Zaza ship,” the source said.

The Ocean Viking, which has been in limbo in the Mediterranean south of Sicily, has been waiting for permission from Italy or Malta to offload the migrants at a safe port.

Italy could transfer migrants from Ocean Viking rescue ship on Monday

Tensions have risen in the past week, as witnessed by an AFP reporter aboard the boat, as migrants have become increasingly desperate to reach land. Others have become distraught at not being able to telephone their families to let them know they were safe.

SOS Mediteranee said in a statement on Saturday that “the only assistance proposed has been a visit by a medical doctor and a cultural mediator who spoke to the survivors but are not in a position to present a solution for their disembarkation.”

The migrants, which include Pakistanis, North Africans, Eritreans, Nigerians and others, were picked up after fleeing Libya in four separate rescues by the Ocean Viking on June 25 and 30.

"How long Read More – Source

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Air France to cut 7,580 jobs at French flagship carrier and regional unit Hop!

Issued on: 03/07/2020 – 20:16Modified: 03/07/2020 – 20:16

Air France confirmed plans to cut some 7..

Issued on: 03/07/2020 – 20:16Modified: 03/07/2020 – 20:16

Air France confirmed plans to cut some 7,500 jobs including 1,000 at sister airline Hop! on Friday, as staff protested over its response to the collapse in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The French flag carrier, part of Franco-Dutch group Air France-KLM, said it had lost €15 million a day during the worst part of the crisis, which also saw its revenues plunge by 95 percent. It did not see traffic returning to 2019 levels before 2024.

As a result, Air France plans to cut 6,560 or 16 percent of jobs at the main airline by the end of 2022, more than 3,500 of which will come through natural departures, it said after union talks.

Another 1,020 jobs will go over the next three years at Hop!, representing 42 percent of staff at the regional carrier based in the coastal city of Nantes, which has also been hit by job cuts at plane manufacturer Airbus.

The French government – which granted Air France €7 billion ($7.9 billion) in aid, including state-backed loans, to help it to survive – has urged the airline to avoid compulsory layoffs, though it has conceded Air France is "on the edge”.

"A successful labour reorganisation is one where there are no forced departures," junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Sud Radio on Friday.

In its statement, Air France said it would give priority to voluntary departures, early retirement and staff mobility. It did not rule out compulsory redundancies, however.

The reconstruction plan will be presented at the end of July, together with a plan for the wider Air France-KLM Group.

This is not how I wanted to leave

Some 100 union members and employees, from cleaning staff to check-in assistants, demonstrated earlier outside the airline's base at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris against plans to cut staff after receiving state aid to absorb the pandemic fallout.

Air France employees gather to protest a restructuring plan that includes thousands of job cuts in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis outside the French airline's headquarters in Roissy-en-France near Paris on July 3, 2020. The sign at right reads, "Not born to end up in the dumpster.” © Gonzalo Fuentes, Reuters

"It's scandalous. The government is putting in €7 billion and the compRead More – Source

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