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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

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A billboard in Paris for former prime minister Alain Juppe, the front runner in the conservative primaries, Paris, Nov. 18, 2016. (L. Bryant/VOA)
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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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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)