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Donald Trump’s Win in US triggers Fear and Hope in France that next year’s Presidential Elections may deliver Similar Upset

Complicating matters, French voters are allowed to cast their ballots for either — or both — primaries, regardless of their party affiliation

A billboard in Paris for former prime minister Alain Juppe, the front runner in the conservative primaries, Paris, Nov. 18, 2016. (L. Bryant/VOA)

If all goes well, Alain Juppe may move into the Elysee presidential palace next May.

The septuagenarian former prime minister and current mayor of Bordeaux has been leading in the polls for months, scoring points for his low-key humor and moderate stances on hot-button issues like Islam and immigration.

But in recent days his comfortable margin has been narrowing. And as French citizens head to the polls Sunday for the first round of the conservative primaries, some wonder if the “Trump effect” could boomerang in France.

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“Mr. Trump’s election is frightening many politicians,” said analyst Philippe Moreau Defarges of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. “And that fear could play in many different directions.”

Indeed, the U.S. election results prove just how wrong predictions can be. As elsewhere in Europe, in .

A billboard on a Paris newsstand underscoring how deeply the US elections have resonated in France, Paris, Nov. 18, 2016. (L. Bryant/VOA)
A billboard on a Paris newsstand underscoring how deeply the US elections have resonated in France, Paris, Nov. 18, 2016. (L. Bryant/VOA)

This past week has seen two popular outsiders take new steps in consolidating support, as far-right leader Marine Le Pen inaugurated her campaign headquarters in Paris — not far from the Elysee — and maverick ex-investment banker Emmanuel Macron threw his hat into the race.

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Many of same issues playing out in the U.S. campaign are also resonating in France. Voters are disenchanted with the status quo, worried about jobs, and fearful of the downsides of immigration, globalisation and militant Islam. These concerns are powering a hunger for new faces and new solutions.

All of this has sent Juppe and many other mainstream candidates scrambling to rebrand, eager to ditch their insider image.

Another poster of Alain Juppe in Paris, France, Nov. 18, 2016. (L. Bryant/VOA)
Another poster of Alain Juppe in Paris, France, Nov. 18, 2016. (L. Bryant/VOA)

“All of them are criticizing the elite, the establishment and promising change,” said Jean-Eric Branaa, a U.S. expert and professor at Paris II University. “And of course, all of them are part of the establishment. So voters are quite puzzled.”

Among the seven contenders in Sunday’s primary, for example, two are former prime ministers, one is ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, while the other four are veteran politicians. When candidate Jean-Francois Coppe vastly underestimated the cost of a croissant recently, his rivals and the media pounced, suggesting he was disconnected with the concerns of ordinary voters.

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Juppe, too, has also been quick to note he does his own shopping (at the Monoprix, near Bordeaux’ city hall). He has been credited for transforming the southwestern city — not to mention his own image. He was among the country’s most loathed politicians in the 1990s, when he served as prime minister.

But ahead of Sunday’s vote, polls show a last-minute surge away from Juppe and in favor of another former prime minister, Francois Fillon, who is now running a tight race with Sarkozy for second place.

“Juppe is too old,” said 19-year-old student Victor Lebrun, who is nonetheless uncertain who he will vote for. “I think we need someone who is young, who really understands how people are thinking.”

The two rounds of conservative voting will prove an early test of how voter sentiments pan out in the ballot box. The ruling Socialists hold their own elections in December, marking the first time both parties hold presidential primaries.

Still uncertain is whether the incumbent and deeply unpopular leader, Francois Hollande, will run for re-election, but many experts have written off his chances of winning.

Complicating matters, French voters are allowed to cast their ballots for either — or both — primaries, regardless of their party affiliation.

Entrepreneur Christophe de Courson plans to vote for Fillon in the primaries, but he is eyeing a very different candidate when it comes to next April’s presidential poll.

“I think he’ll cause waves,” he said of Macron, who quit his job as economy minister earlier this year to launch his own political movement called “En Marche!” (“Forward!”). Macron is not running in either of the primaries, trying to sell himself to both the French right and left. He still faces the task of collecting the 500 signatures from elected officials necessary to get on the ballot.

“He really knows the issues, and he has a political plan,” de Courson added. “The fact you can’t label him is a plus.”

Another poster of Alain Juppe in Paris, France, Nov. 18, 2016. (L. Bryant/VOA)
Another poster of Alain Juppe in Paris, France, Nov. 18, 2016. (L. Bryant/VOA)

Far-right leader Le Pen is a more formidable challenge. The National Front head who has been coasting on populist sentiments for months, was among the first to congratulate Trump on his victory. Today, she sees it as a harbinger of her own.

A decade ago, her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, made it to the second-round presidential runoff. He was soundly beaten, in what many considered a referendum against extremism.

Until the U.S. vote, few believed the younger Le Pen could win either. Now, some believe 2017 could be different. Trump, they say, has made once-taboo discourse and positions more acceptable.

“People could vote for Marine Le Pen in the second round, saying, why not after all?” said analyst Branaa. “I don’t think she’s going to win. But she’s going to come pretty close.” (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google comes up with a new feature

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?