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As the French electoral campaign enters its most salient phase ahead of Sunday’s election, atrocities continue in Ukraine as Russian support for Putin increases, gang violence spreads in Central America and Viktor Orbàn maintains office in Hungary. Read about all this and much more in this week’s #MondayBriefing 


When Emmanuel Macron was first elected in the second round of the 2017 Presidential Election, the world in which he was about to become the head of the executive of one of the most geopolitically relevant countries in Europe was widely different from today’s. Between that victory and this Sunday’s first round of the Presidential election, in fact, there have been a pandemic and a war on European soil, which are elements that, combined with all the implications that came with them, are bound to modify the pillars on which citizens’ voting behavior is based.  

It is true that Centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron is still considered the favorite to win, but it is also true that France has become more and more polarized, in a pattern that clearly resembles most countries in the Western World. This time, the unity that Macron promises during his campaign and is most consistent with his Centrist stance, is seemingly harder to guarantee compared to five years ago, as the crises increased the demand for more extreme views on certain salient issues, especially in rural areas. 

According to surveys, the election is very likely to go to two rounds, with the second one being scheduled for Sunday, April 24th. Out of the 12 official candidates, there are seemingly only six real contestants. Macron is followed in the polls by nationalist Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen, hard-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon, centre-right candidate Valérie Pecresse and far-right candidate Eric Zemmour, who wants to “save France” from mass immigration. It is interesting to note how France’s traditional left, following a series of scandals and internal fighting, have all but left contention.  

As said, Macron currently leads the race, but since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the French President’s response to it both from a domestic and from a European Union perspective, support for him has decreased and support for Marine Le Pen has increased, a likely consequence of Europe’s arguably unclear and confused stance on the conflict. What that implies is that, even if there are no major setbacks and Macron indeed wins the second round of the election on April 24th, governing France this time around will be even harder.  

Around the World 

Bodies strewn across the street in Bucha as Ukraine accuses Russia of war crimes. Hundreds of civilians were found dead by Ukrainian forces as they recaptured areas in the outskirts of Kyiv from Russia. Pictures were shared on the Internet by news outlets showing some of the murdered Ukrainians handcuffed, with the hands tied behind their back. Other reportages showed mass burials of Ukrainian civilians. 

Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party won Hungary’s parliamentary election. Victor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, is set to remain in power after 12 years of holding the post. Fidesz, the ruling party, has won 53 per cent of the popular vote and a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Orban is the EU leader with the closest ties with the Kremlin, a situation his opponents tried to leverage on to compromise his image. The election has been acknowledged as free by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who sent observers to monitor the procedures, but not fair, because of gerrymandering and the lower media coverage of the opposition parties. 

Related:  Women Behind the Camera  

Explosion of Gang Violence Grips El Salvador, Setting Record. El Salvador declared a state of emergency last Sunday after gangs went on a killing spree on Saturday, shooting street vendors, bus passengers and marketgoers with seemingly random criteria. It was the single bloodiest day in the country on record since the end of its civil war 30 years ago. 

Olaf Scholz’s SPD secures major win in Saarland state election. The German Olaf Scholz’s center-left party secured a rare absolute majority at Saarland state election, effectively passing its first electoral test since entering government.  

Have the Oscars lost their way?. The once most anticipated live television event of the year is fighting plummeting tv ratings in the post pandemic world. This year, among some worrying choices that blatantly divide the industry in order of importance, like cutting run-time allocated to the prizegiving of lesser-known awards, the viral spectacle of actor Will Smith’s slap signifies but another debacle tainting the prestige of the Academy Awards and eclipsing their purpose. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Restricting Teaching About Sexual Orientation. The Republican “Don’t Say Gay” bill advances in Florida disguised by the premise of safeguarding parental control over children’s education. It limits and, in some cases, bans conversations within public school contexts in matters of sexual orientation and gender ideology. The bill risks isolating vulnerable individuals and contributes to a concerning trend in US legislation’s targeting of the LGBTQI+ group.  

‘We took our children and ran’: thousands displaced as Senegal’s 40-year war crosses border. One of the longest running wars in contemporary Africa, contending the independence of the separatist Casamance region of Senegal, has again intensified. Fighting has spilled over the Gambia’s border and both Senegalese and Gambians are being displaced. This has taken a toll on people and resources of the Gambia, complicating its maintained neutrality in the conflict. 

Abramovich suffered suspected poisoning after peace talks in Kyiv. Russian owner of Chelsea Football Club, currently known for his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, reportedly suffered poisoning symptoms in Kyiv in early March after peace talks with Russia. The poisoning was confirmed by three people familiar with the matter. 

Germany takes step towards gas rationing over payment stand-off with Russia. Putin’s demand for Russia’s natural gas exports to be paid in roubles has intensified fears over substantial energy supply disruptions. With high probability a compromise is to be reached allowing EU countries to continue payments in euros as long as they are routed through Gazprombank, a private-owned Russian bank, which until now has remained unsanctioned by EU. Nonetheless, Germany and Austria are taking their first steps setting up national contingency plans, since any drop in supply could mean having to cut back industrial production. 

Faced with foreign pressure, Russians rally around Putin, poll shows. President Vladimir V. Putin’s approval ratings have reached levels unseen in years, according to an independent poll released on Thursday, as many Russians rally around the flag in the face of mounting international pressure. Eighty-three percent of Russians said they approved of Mr. Putin’s actions, up from 69 percent in January, according to a poll by the Levada Center, an independent pollster in Moscow. Ratings of many other government institutions, as well as the governing party, have also gone up, the poll indicated. 

Related:  Biden’s plans for America come with a big caveat for global trade

Russia sanctions threaten to erode dominance of US dollar, says IMF. The unprecedented financial sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine threaten to gradually dilute the dominance of the US dollar and result in a more fragmented international monetary system, a top official at the IMF has warned. 

Tunisia’s political crisis worsens as president dissolves parliament. Last July, Saied became the sole ruler of Tunisia after a coup that benefitted from massive popular support. The same support has now seen a dramatic decline after his failure to halt the country’s deteriorating economic and social situation. With his latest move, Saied has made it clear he is aiming to form a direct democracy that bypasses political parties. 

Pakistan’s PM calls for early election after vote of no confidence thrown out. On Sunday morning, in an unconstitutional move, the deputy speaker of the house was instructed by PM Khan to suspend parliament hours before the vote of no confidence. Imran Khan, whom the opposition coalition had collected enough votes to oust in the no-confidence vote, will maintain his position as PM until elections are held in the next 90 days. The PM has justified his move as the only way to defeat “a foreign conspiracy against the government”, an unfounded claim he has clung to in the days preceding the vote. 

Italian News 

Il caporalato diminuisce al Sud ma aumenta al Nord. Secondo un rapporto del sindacato Flai-Cgil (Federazione lavoratori agroindustria) su 405 zone dell’Italia dove è più diffuso il caporalato, il fenomeno dello sfruttamento malavitoso dei braccianti nei campi, ben 129 si trovano nel Nord: 84 nel Nord Est e 45 nel Nord Ovest. Quando si parla di caporalato, solitamente l’attenzione è rivolta soprattutto alla Puglia, alla Sicilia, alla Calabria e alla Campania, quando nella realtà dei fatti il fenomeno sembra essere sempre più diffuso anche nel Nord della penisola. 

Draghi a Napoli, patto per città: ‘C’è questione meridionale, colmare i divari’. Il premier Mario Draghi e il sindaco Gaetano Manfredi hanno siglato il “patto per Napoli”, in base al quale lo stato si impegna a versare al comune un miliardo e 300 milioni di euro in 20 anni. “L’obiettivo del piano è colmare i divari territoriali, ormai insopportabili”, ammettendo l’esistenza di una “questione meridionale” e rimarcando l’esigenza di agire con urgenza, determinazione e unità.  

Ucraina, ordinanza per l’accoglienza dei profughi: 300 euro a persona, 150 per i minori. il capo del dipartimento della Protezione Civile Fabio Curcio ha firmato un’ordinanza riguardante la gestione dei profughi ucraini che scappano dalla guerra e arrivano in Italia. A livello di servizi sanitari, saranno equiparati ai cittadini italiani e coloro che hanno trovato un’autonoma sistemazione riceveranno un contributo “una tantum” di 300 euro a testa per massimo tre mesi dal loro arrivo in Italia.  

Covid-19, finisce lo stato d’emergenza: le nuove regole e cosa è cambiato dall’1 aprile. Il 31 marzo è terminato lo stato di emergenza che è stato in vigore per oltre due anni. La restrizioni verranno gradualmente abbandonate, cominciando con l’utilizzo del Green Pass base (e non più Super Green Pass) per accedere ai servizi di ristorazione all’aperto e mezzi pubblici. Resta attivo fino al 30 aprile l’obbligo di indossare mascherine Ffp2 sui mezzi di trasporto, nelle sale teatrali e cinematografiche e nei locali di intrattenimento. Dal 1 aprile, inoltre, dovrà rispettare l’isolamento solo chi ha contratto il virus, mentre i contatti stretti applicheranno un regime di autosorveglianza.  

Related:  Truthful, not Neutral 

Energia, Cingolani dopo l’annuncio di Putin: «L’Italia andrà avanti anche senza il gas russo». Putin ha firmato un decreto presidenziale con il quale ha deciso di fermare la fornitura di gas ai cosiddetti “Paesi ostili”, cioè coloro che si rifiutano di pagare in rubli. I Paesi Europei restano uniti e decidono di mantenere le sanzioni, mentre il ministro della Transizione Ecologica Roberto CIngolani rassicura l’Italia dicendo che al momento le riserve energetiche consentono al Paese di continuare normalmente la sua attività. Al momento si sta lavorando per rendere l’Italia totalmente indipendente dal gas russo.   

Vaccini: la terza dose protegge al 91% dalle forme severe di Covid. L’Istituto Superiore di Sanità, in un suo rapporto riguardante il Covid-19, ha riportato che la terza dose di vaccino riesce ad avere un’efficacia del 91% nel proteggere dalle forme severe della malattia. Per quanto riguarda la protezione dall’infezione da SarsCoV2, chi ha completato il ciclo vaccinale è protetto al 68% dopo 120 giorni dalla vaccinazione.  

Bocconi News 

  • Exchange results are out. Find out where you are going on your Punto Blu. 
  • Student association B-Lab has announced its candidate for the CNSU (Consiglio Nazionale degli Studenti Universitari). It’s Michele Zheng, last semester’s head of the association. 

In Case You Missed it: 

New member Elisa Latora wrote about the ethical contradictions that our society faces when it gives media spotlight to criminals.  

Shelby Carter analyzed the European digital confidentiality that is becoming increasingly relevant in the world we currently inhabit.  

Carlo Maria Franchino, partendo da uno studio dell’Economist, ha scritto un pezzo che riguarda la tematica della sicurezza nella città di Milano.  

La nuova membra del team Emma Scipioni, partendo dall’annuncio dell’avvento di Meta da parte di Mark Zuckerberg, ha messo su un’argomentata riflessione sulle talvolta pericolose implicazioni di tale continuo progresso tecnologico.  

Chiara Agnoli ha intervistato vari studenti che si trovano in exchange in giro per il mondo e si è fatta raccontare particolarità e impressioni delle loro rispettive esperienze. 

L’associazione studentesca Keiron ha scritto della figura degli hacker, spesso vista come controversa nella nostra società, ma mai come oggi fondamentale per capire la natura di alcuni degli equilibri che governano il nostro mondo.  

New member Lorenzo Garbarino wrote about the newly encouraging project of Moderna Inc to work on an mRNA based vaccine against HIV, which may set the base to actually  

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Every week, your TiL Monday Briefing 🗞: you better read it with a cup of coffee! ☕️

Current members of the team are Elisa Latora, Dragos-Ioan Ile, Chiara Todesco, Polina Mednikova, Theo Di Martino Taulois, Zoe Di Lieto, and Bojan Zeric.

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