The first round of elections to the French parliament’s lower house, the National Assembly, handed candidates from President Macron’s La Republique En March! Movement a major victory. Sociologists project that Macron’s supporters will gain an absolute majority in parliament - more than 400 out of 577 seats. However, France is not in peril of becoming autocratic, as the new legislative establishment has brought together both seasoned and rookie politicians who sympathize both with the right and left, Kommersant writes.
Despite a record low voter turnout (48.7%), the presidential coalition has secured the biggest number of votes during the elections, RBC notes. The paper points out that the 22.6 million who went to the polls is the lowest number since the second round of the 2007 elections.
The low turnout stems from several interrelated factors, Igor Bunin, President of the Center for Political Technologies, told the paper. He emphasized many voters decided not to vote to give the young president a chance to implement his reforms, even though they do not approve all his proposals. "At the moment we do not support him, we do not really like some of his reforms, but let him have a try - that’s the voters’ message, and, since real support is not very substantial, this situation gives the president carte blanche," he explained.
Another explanation for the low turnout is the fact that many voters see no intrigue whatsoever in these elections, Florent Parmentier of the HEC Paris international business school informed RBC. "The French presidential campaign began last August with the Republican Party’s primaries. Society is fed up with politics," the paper quotes him as saying.
According to the expert, the victory of Macron’s party in the first round is really impressive, but it needs to be consolidated. "It is highly probable that the turnout during the second round will be the same, and Macron’s coalition is likely to show good results at the elections. Under these circumstances, it is important what approach will be chosen by the losers - a constructive one or opposition," he said.
It is obvious that the White House and especially US President Donald Trump are interested in normalizing relations with Russia and launching a new dialogue with Moscow, Dimitri Simes, President of the Center for the National Interest and Publisher of its foreign policy magazine, The National Interest, said in an interview with Izvestia.
He noted though that there is a real mismatch of positions and a great deal of mistrust between the two countries. One can argue endlessly where it came from and who is to blame, but it is impossible to deny it, the expert emphasized.
Many American congressmen and US media talking heads now view contacts with Russia with great suspicion, Simes explained. Considering this, one can imagine the tough psychological bind the Trump administration found itself in. The White House has to keep in mind all the time that, if they agree to some concessions or somehow sympathize or understand Russia’s stance, the next day a multitude of media outlets will go on the attack, questioning their loyalty. Besides, there are serious differences in the positions of Moscow and Washington on global policy issues, he noted.
It is necessary to understand and recognize that the two countries are beset by mutual distrust, different interests and stances on many issues. The US now has a new administration, which has never deceived Russia in anything, and so far it does not accuse Moscow of misleading it. The two countries need to start from scratch and work to restore confidence, the expert noted.
On a more noteworthy point, Trump differs from his predecessor Obama in that he has no negative attitude towards Vladimir Putin, the expert stressed. This fact can play a positive role in achieving results that would benefit both sides. At the same time, one needs to realize that, unlike the former president, Trump is ready to use force to protect US national interests, the way he did in Syria. On the other hand, there is a possibility of starting a fresh, genuine dialogue between Washington and Moscow. However, if it fails and disappointment emerges, Russia will have to deal with a US president who is ready to take tough measures, including the military ones, Simes emphasized.
The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade has forged a strategy to support supplies of railroad equipment. Part and parcel of the incentive tools will be subsidies for interest rates on loans and tax cuts, Izvestia writes.
The strategy’s architects believe that, if the government strictly adheres to the proposed plan, it will be possible to expect an increase in exports in several directions simultaneously - to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member-countries (exports are to grow by 72% by 2025), Africa and the Middle East (by 20.9%), Latin America (by 27%), Asia and Oceania (by 41.8%).
Falling domestic demand was observed in other countries too with the subsequent focus on supplies abroad supported by the government, says Yuri Sahakyan, Director General of the Institute for Natural Monopolies Research.
"At the beginning of the 2010s, manufactures mainly focused their capacities on domestic demand, as it was growing. In recent years, however, they began to look for opportunities to supply their products abroad, given that over the past few years, production capacities for competitive rolling stock globally have been upgraded," the paper quotes him as saying.
Although analysts worldwide do not expect any significant growth in the global economy and the economies of the potential importing countries up to 2025, good demand dynamics in the regions are quite feasible, according to Pavel Sigal, First Vice President of Opora Rossii (Pillar of Russia) association. In his view, the drop in the ruble exchange rate that occurred in 2015-2016 was a significant advantage for domestic producers.
Finland’s Fortum, along with Russia’s Rusnano corporation, could pour up to 100 billion rubles ($1.75 bln) into wind power generation projects in Russia up until 2022. According to the information obtained by Kommersant, the company received a quota for the selection of renewable energy projects. Italy’s Enel, which took part in the selection, received a quota of 291 MW.
Fierce competition between foreign firms and Russia’s VetroOGK controlled by the Rostatom Nuclear Energy Corporation led to investors cutting capital expenditures by 39%. As a result, the price of wind power generation approached Europe’s levels.
According to head of the Russian Association of Wind Power Industry Igor Bryzgunov, at the second stage of the bid, declared capital expenditures fell by 30.3%. Representative of VetroOGK believe that the preliminary results have shown great market dynamics. They stressed that, with high capex, the company will be able to implement projects without significant risks, while localizing the production of wind turbines in Russia.
Enel and Fortum have still not revealed specific plans for localization. The number of wind power plants that Forum has, is enough to begin the localization, but 219 MW will not be sufficient for Enel to attract a technology partner. "It will be expedient for the company to work with European suppliers who have already cooperated with some of the Russian players," said Vladimir Sklyar of Renaissance Capital.
Russian military police units are currently carrying out crucial tasks in Syria, such as guarding the commandant’s officers, providing security when humanitarian aid is distributed, escorting convoys and protecting sappers. A military police serviceman who took part in the operation in Aleppo, told Izvestia that the military police battalion had been formed in early December. “Although we did not have any special training for a mission in Syria, we were ready to carry out the assignment,” he said, adding that the battalion personnel have good training and combat experience under their belts.
"The line of engagement between the parties is currently located in the west, close to the al-Assad military academy where artillery officers were trained before the conflict. After government troops defended the area in October and November, there are constantly artillery bombardments and mortar bombs are flying," he told the paper.
"When we came in late December, we received information that the enemy had beefed up its presence in the southern part of the city, and a breakthrough was possible. There were no militants in Aleppo itself, but there was information that suicide bombers were being prepared. Perhaps, there were sleeper terrorist cells. However, there were no suicide bombings, or terror attacks" the policeman explained.
We had strict instructions, he said, namely, to avoid shooting and violence and be as tactful as possible. Every single step we took was trailed by foreign media. They seemed to be just waiting for us to slip up or act aggressively towards the civilians, he pointed out.
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