French Election Infographic: Macron vs. Le Pen to Decide Fate of EU
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France: Macron vs. Le Pen to Decide Fate of EU

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France: Macron vs. Le Pen to Decide Fate of EU

French Elections: Macron vs. Le Pen to Decide Fate of EU

The first round of the French presidential election is now complete, with only two candidates remaining:

Candidate% Vote (Round 1)
Emmanuel Macron23.9%
Marine Le Pen21.4%
François Fillon20.0%
Jean-Luc Mélenchon19.6%
Benoît Hamon6.4%
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan4.7%
Others4.0%

Because no candidate received a majority of votes, there will be a run-off vote on May 7 in which French voters decide between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

While the two candidates are each considered outsiders for different reasons, their key platform differences could not be more stark. The major fundamental issue they disagree on is EU membership – and as a result, French voters potentially hold the fate of the entire EU in their hands.

Head-to-head: Macron vs. Le Pen

Today’s infographic is from Swissquote, and it compares the platforms of Macron and Le Pen head-to-head.

Here are some of the key differences between the two:

Background:
Emmanuel Macron is an investment banker that was the Minister of the Economy for François Hollande’s government. He left in 2016 to start En Marche!, a centrist political movement that describes itself as “neither right nor left”.

Marine Le Pen has been the leader of the National Front since 2011, and is a lawyer by trade. She is the youngest daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, and has worked in politics since 1998. She’s also been a Member of European Parliament since 2004.

European Union:
Macron wants to remain in the European Union and to seek a common asylum policy. Meanwhile, Le Pen wants to hold a referendum on France’s EU membership, while re-instating a national currency.

Economic Policies:
Macron wants to cut government spending to 50% of GDP, to limit the wealth tax to real estate, and to cut the corporate tax rate from 33.3% to 25%.

Le Pen supports re-industrialization of France as well as “intelligent protectionism”. She wants to allow the Banque de France to print money to fund the treasury up to an annual maximum of 5% of total money supply, and also advocates a 10% cut for the lowest income tax brackets.

Security:
Macron wants to stay in the Schengen border-free zone, while Le Pen wants to exit it. Both want to hire new police officers and to add new prison spaces, though Le Pen wants to add higher amounts of each.

Le Pen also wants to cut legal immigration to France to 10,000 per year.

Military:
Both Macron and Le Pen want to re-introduce military conscription for short periods of time. Each wants to increase defense spending, as well: Macron by 2% by 2025, and Le Pen by 3% of GDP by 2022.

Labor:
Both want to keep the 35-hour work week, although with some exceptions. Macron wants to extend unemployment benefits to entrepreneurs, farmers, self-employed, and those who quit jobs voluntarily. He also wants to implement a universal pension system, and to boost training schemes for unemployed youth.

Le Pen advocates the lowering of the retirement age to 60, and for a “purchasing-power bonus” of €1,000 a year for low-wage earners and pensioners. She also wants a national plan for equal pay for women, and for overtime to be tax-free.

Environment:
Macron is opposed to the exploitation of shale gas and offshore drilling, and wants the remaining coal-fired plants in France to be closed.

Le Pen calls for a move to a “zero-carbon” economy, and to ban shale gas exploration, while setting a moratorium on windmills for power generation. Le Pen also would like to ban GMOs.

Education:
Macron says up to 5,000 new teaching jobs should be created. Le Pen wants there to be no free education for children of illegal immigrants, and to restrict the use of foreign languages in schools. She also thinks school uniforms should be mandatory.

Civil Liberties:
Macron supports same-sex marriage, while Le Pen wants to scrap the 2014 law allowing same-sex marriage and to replace it with civil unions.

Macron supports medically assisted procreation for lesbians, but opposes recourse to surrogate mothers by homosexual couples. Le Pen wants to ban surrogacy and to restrict medically-supported procreation to people with sterility problems.

Governance
Both candidates want to introduce some degree of proportional representation to the electoral system, though Le Pen wants to take it further.

Macron wants to cut 120,000 state jobs by not replacing retiring civil servants. Le Pen wants to put French flags on all public buildings, to cut the number of lawmakers in the National Assembly and Senate, and to shrink the size of local governments in half.

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Politics

A Century of Unions in Europe (1920-2022)

This year marks 100 years since the birth of the Soviet Union. How have countries in and near Europe aligned themselves over the last century?

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the ussr and the eu

Timeline: A Century of Unions in Europe (1920-2022)

On February 24th, Russia invaded Ukraine launching one of the biggest wars on European soil since World War II. The invasion reflects a longstanding belief of Russia’s that Ukraine—and much of the Soviet Union’s former republics and satellite states—is still their territory to claim. But what is the “former glory” of Russia?

Of the USSR’s former republics and satellite states, many have moved on to join the European Union, and in Putin’s eyes have become more “Westernized” and further from Russian values. In fact, Ukraine recently had its candidacy status approved with the EU.

It’s now been a full century since the formation of the USSR. Much has changed since then, and this visual timeline breaks down how countries within and near Europe have aligned themselves over those 100 years.

ℹ️ In the above visual, Soviet satellite states are not shown as a part of the USSR, as they were never formal republics. Candidate countries still in process to join the EU are not shown.

The USSR / Soviet Union

The Soviet Union—officially titled the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)—was formed 100 years ago in 1922 and was dissolved in 1991 almost 70 years later. At its height it was home to 15 republics, over 286 million people, and stretched from the Pacific Ocean to Ukraine, with virtual control and influence in countries as far west as East Germany.

Notable leaders characterized both the rise and fall of the USSR, starting with its establishment under Vladimir Lenin until the union’s dissolution under Mikhail Gorbachev. Latvia and Lithuania were among the first republics to make the move for sovereignty, beginning the demise of the Soviet Union.

Here’s a look at which modern day countries were a part of the USSR.

Modern Day CountryName Under USSRDate JoinedDate Gained Independence
🇬🇪 GeorgiaGeorgian Soviet Socialist Republic19221991
🇺🇦 UkraineUkrainian Soviet Socialist Republic19221991
🇦🇲 ArmeniaArmenian Soviet Socialist Republic19221991
🇦🇿 AzerbaijanAzerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic19221991
🇧🇾 BelarusByelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic19221991
🇷🇺 RussiaRussian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic19221991
🇺🇿 UzbekistanUzbek Soviet Socialist Republic19241991
🇹🇲 TurkmenistanTurkmen Soviet Socialist Republic19241991
🇹🇯 TajikistanTajik Soviet Socialist Republic19291991
🇰🇬 KyrgyzstanKirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic19361991
🇰🇿 KazakhstanKazakh Soviet Socialist Republic19361991
🇱🇹 Lithuania Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic19401990
🇪🇪 EstoniaEstonian Soviet Socialist Republic19401991
🇱🇻 LatviaLatvian Soviet Socialist Republic19401990
🇲🇩 MoldovaMoldavian Soviet Socialist Republic19401991

Additionally, there were multiple satellite states, which were not formally joined with the USSR, but operated under intense Soviet influence.

Modern Day Country Country Name at the Time
🇦🇱 AlbaniaPeople's Republic of Albania
🇵🇱 PolandPolish People's Republic
🇧🇬 BulgariaPeople's Republic of Bulgaria
🇷🇴 RomaniaRomanian People's Republic
🇨🇿 CzechiaCzechoslovak Socialist Republic
🇸🇰 SlovakiaCzechoslovak Socialist Republic
🇩🇪 Germany East Germany (German Democratic Republic)
🇭🇺 HungaryHungarian People's Republic
🇸🇮 SloveniaFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇭🇷 CroatiaFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇷🇸 SerbiaFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇧🇦 Bosnia & HerzegovinaFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇲🇪 MontenegroFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇲🇰 North MacedoniaFederal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
🇲🇳 MongoliaMongolian People's Republic

Today, there are still some countries that align themselves with Putin and Russia over the EU.

Belarus, sometimes called Europe’s “last dictatorship”, shares a border with both Ukraine and Russia and facilitated the entry of Russian soldiers into Ukraine. Furthermore, according to the Pentagon, Russian missiles have been launched from Belarus.

The European Union

The European Union was officially formed in 1993 and has 27 member states. Some former USSR republics are now a part of the union including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The most recent member to join was Croatia in 2013.

The EU has its roots in the European Coal & Steel Community which was formed in 1952 with Italy, France, West Germany and a few other countries comprising its first members. There are currently six candidate countries on track to join the EU — all but one were either former Soviet satellite states or formal republics:

  • 🇦🇱 Albania
  • 🇲🇪 Montenegro
  • 🇲🇰 North Macedonia
  • 🇷🇸 Serbia
  • 🇹🇷 Turkey
  • 🇺🇦 Ukraine
  • 🇲🇩 Moldova

There are many reasons countries opt to join the EU: a common currency, easier movement of goods and people between national borders, and, of course, military protection.

However, in 2020 the UK formally left the union, making it the first country in history to do so. Here’s a look at every EU member state.

EU Member StatesYear JoinedFormer USSR Republic?Former USSR Satellite State?
🇦🇹 Austria1995NoNo
🇧🇪 Belgium1952NoNo
🇧🇬 Bulgaria2007NoYes
🇭🇷 Croatia2013NoYes
🇨🇾 Cyprus2004NoNo
🇨🇿 Czechia2004NoYes
🇩🇰 Denmark1973NoNo
🇪🇪 Estonia2004Yes--
🇫🇮 Finland1995NoNo
🇫🇷 France1952NoNo
🇩🇪 Germany1952NoYes (East Germany)
🇬🇷 Greece1981NoNo
🇭🇺 Hungary2004NoYes
🇮🇪 Ireland1973NoNo
🇮🇹 Italy1952NoNo
🇱🇻 Latvia2004Yes--
🇱🇹 Lithuania2004Yes--
🇱🇺 Luxembourg1952NoNo
🇲🇹 Malta2004NoNo
🇳🇱 Netherlands1952NoNo
🇵🇱 Poland2004NoYes
🇵🇹 Portugal1986NoNo
🇷🇴 Romania2007NoYes
🇸🇰 Slovakia2004NoYes
🇸🇮 Slovenia2004NoYes
🇪🇸 Spain1986NoNo
🇸🇪 Sweden1995NoNo

Ukraine’s Outlook

The iron curtain that was draped across Europe, which used to divide the continent politically and ideologically, has since been drawn back. But the war in Ukraine is a threat to many in Europe, and countries such as Poland have voiced fears about the spillover of conflict.

In late June, the European Council approved Ukraine’s bid for expedited candidacy to the EU, but the process will still likely be lengthy—for example, it took Croatia 10 years to formally join at the normal pace.

Beyond other needs such as military support, joining the union would allow refugees from Ukraine the freedom to migrate and work in other EU countries with ease.

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Missing Migrants: Visualizing Lost Lives Along the Mediterranean Sea

Each year, thousands of migrants take the journey along the Eastern Mediterranean to get to the EU. Some never make it to their destination.

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Map of Missing Migrants along the Eastern Mediterranean

Missing Migrants: Lost Lives Along the Mediterranean Sea

Each year, thousands of migrants flee war-torn countries in search of asylum.

Even before the migrant crisis caused by the Russo-Ukrainian War, Europe has been the focal point in the past decade. Many refugees from conflicts in Africa and Asia, including those from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and have traveled to Europe along the Eastern Mediterranean migration route—a dangerous passage across the Aegean Sea that weaves along the coastlines of Greece and Turkey.

The journey to reach Europe is risky, and some of the migrants who attempt the crossing never make it. Using data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), this map by Elbie Bentley visualizes the reported deaths and disappearances along the Eastern Mediterranean from 2014 to 2021.

Inspired by Levi Westerveld’s Those Who Did Not Cross, each lost life is captured with its own dot, in an effort to humanize the data.

The 2015 European Crisis

1,863 deaths and disappearances were reported along the Eastern Mediterranean between the years of 2014 and 2021.

Almost half of those recordings came from 2015 during the European migrant crisis, when a record-breaking one million people sought asylum in the EU.

About 800,000 of the one million migrants traveled to Greece through Turkey, with many of the refugees escaping Syria’s civil war.

European Migrant Crisis by YearReported deaths and disappearances
2014101
2015804
2016434
201762
2018174
201971
2020106
2021111

In an attempt to control the situation, the EU and Turkey signed a migration deal in March 2016 that agreed to send back migrants who did not receive official permission to enter the EU.

Though the agreement drastically reduced the number of people traveling through Turkey to Greece, thousands still make the dangerous journey across the Aegean Sea each year. In 2021, 111 people were reported dead or missing along the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Dangerous Journey

According to the International Organization for Migration, the most common cause of death along the Eastern Mediterranean is drowning.

While the journey is only 5.4 nautical miles or less, transportation conditions to Greece are not always safe. Boats are sometimes forced into tumultuous waters, according to migrants who’ve experienced the journey firsthand.

And these boats are often severely underequipped and overcrowded—rubber dinghies designed to carry a dozen people are sometimes loaded with up to 60 passengers.

Safer means of transportation are available, but the costs are steep. According to Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, it could cost a family an average of €10,000 to travel by yacht.

Rescue Efforts for Migrants is Needed

Further complicating the dangerous journey is a lack of rescue resources.

According to a 2021 report by IOM, the EU does not currently have a dedicated search and rescue team. Instead, the onus is on individual states to patrol their own waters.

Until the crisis is better addressed or local conflicts begin to resolve, there will be an urgent need for increased rescue operations and a standardized migration protocol to help mitigate the number of migrant deaths and disappearances each year.

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