AF Check

The first round of the 2017 French presidential election was held on 23 April 2017. As no candidate won a majority, a run-off election between the top two candidates, Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! and Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN), will be held on 7 May 2017. This marks the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic that the runoff will not include a nominee of the traditional centre-left or centre-right parties.

French presidency election macron le pen trump brexit

The eventual narrative of the French election became Emmanuel Macron (globalist) vs. Marine Le Pen (patriot nationalist).  Sound familiar? It’s a false “us against the world” identity politics that French voters will have to carefully navigate through in the lead up to the May 7th election when the two victors face each other. You will see the world weigh in today (which has not traditionally been so overt) and come to see that we have entered into a new era of politics in response to Russian meddling in the US election.

In response to yesterday’s outcome, the Spanish foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis came out saying “he hopes a victory for Macron would mark a break in the rise of extremist populist parties in Europe.”  The European Union Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker broke protocol to personally congratulate Mr. Macron and wished him “good luck” in the May 7th run-off.  In the UK Michel Barnier tried a new tack and framed Macron both a “patriot and a European”. Nigel Farage, former UKIP leader and a champion of Brexit tweeted, “Macron speaking with EU flag behind him. Says it all.”  It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks in Europe – watch how the narratives play out. Perhaps, we Americans can glean a thing or two from the conversation.  Maybe we will come to realize that ‘making America great again’ is not a literal “us against the world” choice, but that there are many other options out there.

Weighing In

Michael Cohen of the Boston Globe calls the first round of the French election “a backlash to the backlash“. He draws a trend line away from the  far right populist movement, the kind shown in the US election results of last year, noting “a funny thing has happened on the way to this dark European future — a backlash to the backlash”. While the National Front’s Marine Le Pen finished second in Sunday’s first round of voting — and will now square off in a head-to-head match-up with the top vote getter, Emmanuel Macron — she is a decided long-shot to win the election.  Indeed, if one takes into account recent electoral results in Austria, the Netherlands, and France, in which far right candidates under-performed, it’s possible that Trump’s victory has served as a cautionary warning.


In 140 Characters (more or less)

FiveThirtyEight tweets Emmanuel Macron, a centrist candidate, and Marine Le Pen, of the far-right-wing National Front, will advance to a runoff in the French presidential election after finishing in the top two positions in a first-round vote on Sunday. Macron is an overwhelming favorite to win the runoff on May 7. But we’re likely to hear two weeks of punditry that draws misleading comparisons between Le Pen, President Trump and Brexit — and that exaggerates Le Pen’s chances as a result. Le Pen could beat her polls by as much as Trump and Brexit combined and still lose to Macron by almost 20 points.


Fact-Check of the Day

French Fact-Check site CrossCheck had to bat down a somewhat familiar sounding claim (is this all coming from the same playbook?).  Did London Muslims “celebrate” a terrorist attack on the Champs-Elysees?  The claim is false.

In a video posted by Paul Golding, the leader of Britain First – a far-right British political organization, he claimed that Muslims were “celebrating” in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Champs-Elysees in Paris which left one person dead on the night of Thursday, 20th of April. In the video, we see a group of men celebrating, some standing on a statue. It is actually a group of Pakistanis in London – on the outskirts of Tooting Broadway, southwest of the British capital – celebrating a victory for Pakistan in a cricket match in 2009.  The video was posted on YouTube on June 22, 2009.

After being alerted by several Internet users, Paul Golding finally deleted his tweet on Friday night.

The 4th & 5th Estate

Google News Lab and First Draft, a coalition set up to support truth and verification in the media, have launched a new initiative: CrossCheck.  With the French presidential election as its primary focus, journalists from organizations across France have been working together to find and verify content circulating online: photographs, videos, memes, comments from threads, and articles on news sites.

Using a feed curated by Google Trends data, Facebook’s CrowdTangle and other technology partners to identify content and storylines that are spiking, participating newsrooms have pooled their experience, resources and regional knowledge to speed and strengthen the verification process. Editors have summarized and added context to each claim, creating a live feed of shareable report cards on the CrossCheck site. Partners have ultimately made use of these reports in their own articles, programmes and social media output, helping accurate reports reach more citizens.

In addition, students and volunteers from CFJ and Science Po Journalism School in Paris received training to use a combination of newsroom technologies and advanced search techniques to assist in the efforts, overseen by AFP (Agence France-Presse). The public has also been encouraged to participate by submitting questions and links to disputed sites and social content for investigation with questions listed and answered on the CrossCheck website.

Now, that is one powerful Fact-Check team.

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