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France and Germany lead swing to right in EU elections, exit polls show

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France and Germany lead swing to right in EU elections, exit polls show

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Far-right parties have made significant gains in the EU elections, winning the vote in France and performing well in Germany and other countries, in results that will help tilt the European parliament towards a more anti-immigration and anti-green stance.

An initial projection by the European Parliament suggested that far and hard right groups were on course to win more than 160 seats out of a total 720 lawmakers in the next parliament, up from at least 135 last time.

The centre-right EPP was on track to win 181 seats, with the Socialists and Democrats in second place with 135 seats and the liberal Renew group 82 seats, holding on to third. The Greens are set to be the biggest losers falling from 71 seats in 2019 to 53, the estimates show.

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The French Rassemblement National party led by Marine Le Pen was expected to have come first with around 33 per cent of the vote, according to exit polls on Sunday, in a stinging rebuke to the centrist alliance of president Emmanuel Macron that secured around 15 per cent of the vote.

“This result is emphatic. Our countrymen have expressed a desire for change and a path for the future,” said Jordan Bardella, who led the far-right RN’s campaign list.

In Germany, the three parties in Olaf Scholz’s coalition were all overtaken by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which came in second, behind the conservative CDU/CSU opposition. Ultraconservative and nationalist parties also won or made significant gains in Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands, the exit polls showed.

“Kiss goodbye to the European Green Deal,” said Simon Hix, politics professor at the European University Institute in Florence, referring to the ambitious plan to hit net zero emissions by 2050.

“This is a pro-farmer, pro-car industry majority.”

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He said the centre right European People’s Party of European commission president Ursula von der Leyen had become even more powerful, since it could work with parties to its left or right.

But the surge, at the expense of liberal and Green parties, would complicate von der Leyen’s bid for a second term as head of the EU’s executive.

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The AfD defied recent scandals to take second place in Germany with 16.4 per cent of the vote. It was one of the AfD’s best results in a nationwide election, although lower than the 22 per cent share polls suggested in January.

“This is a super result . . . a record result,” said party co-leader Tino Chrupalla. “Our voters remained loyal to us and we beat the party of the chancellor, the Greens and the liberals.”

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Its success came despite a flurry of negative headlines, many of them concerning its lead candidate in the election, Maximilian Krah. His staffer was arrested on suspicion of spying for China, and he sparked outrage by downplaying the crimes of the SS. The number two on the AfD’s list is meanwhile being investigated for corruption.

The result was a disaster for the three parties in Scholz’s fragile coalition — the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and the liberal FDP. The Greens saw their share of the vote slump by more than 8 percentage points while the SPD garnered just 14 per cent — its worst-ever result in a nationwide vote.

The opposition centre-right CDU-CSU won the election with 29 seats, the SPD won just 14, the Greens 12 and the FDP 5.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom party (PVV) won 7 seats, up from 1 last time, although that gave it slightly fewer seats than a Labour/Green party alliance.

The EPP performed strongly in Germany, Spain, Greece and some other countries, the data forecast.

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“We are once again the strongest force in Germany,” von der Leyen said in response to the early projections from her home country. “Today we celebrate. From tomorrow we will continue working.”

To secure a second term as commission president, von der Leyen needs a majority of the 720-seat parliament to back her. Final results are expected early on Monday.

Additional reporting by Laura Dubois in Brussels

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Macron’s party at risk of wipeout, say election projections

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Macron’s party at risk of wipeout, say election projections

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President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance could be facing a wipeout in snap parliamentary elections after France’s leftwing parties struck a unity pact.

New projections suggested only around 40 of Macron’s MPs would qualify for the second round vote on July 7, in run-off races that would predominantly be fought between candidates fielded by the far right or the leftwing bloc for the 589-strong assembly, according to two studies for Le Figaro and BFM TV.

The findings suggest Macron’s gamble to dissolve parliament and hold early elections in the hope of stopping the rise of the far-right Rassemblement National party could backfire badly.

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They also underscore how the outcome of the two-round vote on June 30 and July 7 could be determined by the left.

Four normally fractious left-wing parties on Thursday night struck a deal to run as an alliance, with an agreement on candidates and a joint programme. It was endorsed by former president François Hollande, a socialist.

The accord did not specify who would be their candidate for prime minister. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far-left France Insoumise (France Unbowed, LFI) party and a deeply polarising figure in French politics, hinted earlier on Thursday that he wanted to the job.

LFI secured the largest proportion of candidates on the joint list with the centre-left, Socialists, Greens, and Communists.

If the left parties had ran multiple candidates for each seat, Macron’s centrist alliance would have had better chances of piercing through to the second round. To qualify for a run-off, a candidate needs to have won the backing of 12.5 per cent of registered voters.

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By extrapolating results from last week’s European parliamentary election to the upcoming first round in the French legislative poll, RN would come first in 362 seats and the left would come top in 211, according to Le Figaro’s calculations.

Some analysts cautioned against extrapolating from European parliament elections, which take place in a single round according to proportional representation. They often have low turnout and are used as a protest vote against the government.

Mathieu Gallard, a pollster at Ipsos, said predicting seat share at this stage was “just a matter of intuition”. Candidates have not yet been selected and incumbent MPs often command considerable local loyalty. Margins of error for voting intentions across two rounds, the close contests in many constituencies and doubts over turnout made the “outcome highly uncertain at this stage”.

Still, the forecasts add to a series of gloomy surveys for Macron’s camp this week, suggesting they could lose at least half of their 250 seats in the assembly.

Asked about the difficult poll numbers, an adviser to Macron’s alliance said: “There is a narrow path forward, and we’ll see how dynamics shift in the coming days. It is hard but not impossible.”

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An Elabe poll for BFM and La Tribune Dimanche put the RN on 31 per cent (with 4 for the rival far-right party Reconquête), the leftwing alliance on 28 per cent, Macron’s centrist alliance on 18 per cent and the centre-right Les Républicains on 6.5 per cent.

The adviser said the 18 per cent for Macron’s alliance suggested it had new momentum after Sunday’s European vote, when it scored 15 per cent. The adviser pointed to polling showing that almost two-thirds of the French public supported Macron’s decision to dissolve parliament.

Elabe projects the RN winning between 220 and 270 seats, the left 150-190 and Macron’s alliance 90-130. The centre right would take 30-40.

The opinion polls this week suggest the mostly likely scenario is a hung parliament, but if the RN wins by a big margin, it will have a claim on the office of prime minister and the right to form a government.

Video: Why the far right is surging in Europe | FT Film
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Phoenix police have a pattern of violating civil rights, Justice Dept. report says

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Phoenix police have a pattern of violating civil rights, Justice Dept. report says

Darrell Kriplean, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which represents about 2,200 Phoenix officers, stands at a lectern with microphones to take a question during a news conference Thursday in Phoenix. A Justice Department report said Phoenix police discriminate against Black, Hispanic and Native American people, unlawfully detain homeless people and use excessive force, including unjustified deadly force.

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PHOENIX — Phoenix police discriminate against Black, Hispanic and Native American people, unlawfully detain homeless people and use excessive force, including unjustified deadly force, according to a sweeping federal civil rights investigation of law enforcement in the nation’s fifth-largest city.

The U.S. Justice Department report released Thursday says investigators found stark racial disparities in how officers in the Phoenix Police Department enforce certain laws, including low-level drug and traffic offenses. Investigators found that Phoenix officers shoot at people who do not pose an imminent threat, fire their weapons after any threat has been eliminated, and routinely delay medical care for people injured in encounters with officers.

The report does not mention whether the federal government is pursuing a court-enforced reform plan known as a consent decree — an often costly and lengthy process — but a Justice Department official told reporters that in similar cases that method has been used to carry out reforms.

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Phoenix police didn’t immediately comment on the report, referring questions to the city. But a top police union official called the Justice Department investigation a “farce,” and warned that a consent decree would hurt officer morale.

“The Department of Justice is not interested in making local police departments and the communities they serve better,” said Darrell Kriplean, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which represents about 2,200 officers. “This action demonstrates that they are only interested in removing control of local police from the communities that they serve through consent decrees.”

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said in a statement that city officials would meet June 25 to get legal advice and discuss next steps.

“I will carefully and thoroughly review the findings before making further comment,” she said.

Attorney General Merrick Garland called the report “an important step toward accountability and transparency.” He said in an email that it underscores the department’s commitment to “meaningful reform that protects the civil rights and safety of Phoenix residents and strengthens police-community trust.”

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‘Overwhelming statistical evidence’ of disparities due to discrimination

The Justice Department said Phoenix officers enforce certain laws — such as low-level drug and traffic offenses, loitering and trespassing — more harshly against Black, Hispanic and Native American people than against white people who engage in the same conduct.

Black people in the city are over 3.5 times more likely than white people, for example, to be cited or arrested for not signaling before turning, the report says. Hispanic drivers are more than 50% more likely than white drivers to be cited or arrested for speeding near school zone cameras. And Native American people are more than 44 times more likely than white people — on a per capita basis — to be cited or arrested for possessing and consuming alcohol.

Officers investigating drug-related offenses also were 27% more likely to release white people in 30 minutes or less, but Native Americans accused of the same offense were detained longer, the department said. And Native Americans were 14% more likely to be booked for trespass, while officers cited or released white people accused of the same offense.

There is “overwhelming statistical evidence” that the disparities are due to discrimination, the Justice Department said.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who leads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, criticized Phoenix for “over-policing” homeless people, including arrests without reasonable suspicion of a crime. More than a third of the Phoenix Police Department’s misdemeanor arrests and citations were of homeless people, the report says. The DOJ investigation began in August 2021.

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Litigation is an option if the Justice Departments’ efforts to secure a consent decree are unsuccessful.

“We remain very hopeful that we can build on the track record of success that we have had in other jurisdictions across our country and put in place a consent decree that contains the strong medicine necessary to address the severe violations identified,” Clarke said.

Phoenix Police officers in helmets and face shields and holding large body shields labeled

Phoenix Police officers watch protesters rally on June 2, 2020, during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.

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Similar DOJ investigations in Albuquerque, Baltimore and elsewhere have found systemic problems related to excessive force and civil rights violations, some resulting in costly consent decrees that have lasted for years.

In Phoenix, a 2020 case accusing 15 protesters of being in an anti-police gang was dismissed because there wasn’t credible evidence; in 2017, a “challenge coin” was circulated among officers depicting a gas mask-wearing demonstrator getting shot in the groin with a projectile; and in June 2019, cellphone video emerged showing officers pointing guns when they confronted an unarmed Black couple with two small children they suspected of shoplifting.

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Poder In Action, a Phoenix group that advocates for people of color and workers, said the findings were no surprise.

“We never needed a DOJ investigation to tell us this,” the group said in a statement. “The data and the stories from residents have been telling us this for years.”

The report said some police shootings happened because of officers’ “reckless tactics,” and that police “unreasonably delay” providing aid to people they have shot and use force against those who are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated.

In one instance, police waited more than nine minutes to provide aid to a woman whom officers had shot 10 times, the Justice Department said. The woman died.

The investigation zeroed in on the city’s 911 operations. Even though Phoenix has invested $15 million to send non-police responders to mental health calls, the city hasn’t given the 911 call-takers and dispatchers necessary training.

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Officers assume people with disabilities are dangerous and resort to force rather than de-escalation tactics, leading to force and criminal consequences for those with behavioral health disabilities, rather than finding them care, the Justice Department said.

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Tesla shareholders approve Elon Musk’s $56bn pay deal and Texas move

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Tesla shareholders approve Elon Musk’s $56bn pay deal and Texas move

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Tesla shareholders voted to reapprove chief executive Elon Musk’s $56bn pay and to reincorporate the electric-vehicle maker in Texas, handing him significant victories as he seeks to reassert control over the company.

The preliminary results, announced at Tesla’s annual meeting in Austin on Thursday, will strengthen the company’s hand as it attempts to overturn a January decision by a Delaware court to void the 2018 package of stock options — the largest in US history — due to concerns about its size and the independence of the board.

While the vote does not supersede the court’s decision, the ratification could prove instrumental in persuading the judge to reverse or amend her stance. Musk’s grip on the company would be tightened, boosting the chief executive’s stake to more than 20 per cent from his current 13 per cent.

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Musk and the board have for the past few months led a campaign to rally Tesla’s retail shareholders — who own about 30 per cent of the company — to back the two resolutions in what amounted to a referendum on the mercurial leadership of one of the world’s richest people.

They also lobbied institutional investors to go against the guidance of proxy advisers ISS and Glass Lewis, who opposed the “outsized” and “excessive” pay package.

Two of Musk’s crucial allies on the board were also re-elected despite opposition from proxy advisers: former 21st Century Fox chief executive James Murdoch and Musk’s brother Kimbal.

After the polls closed just after 4pm in Austin, Musk emerged on stage to address a rapturous crowd chanting his name, jumping up and down in front of a blue and pink neon sign in the shape of Texas advertising the “cyber roundup”, as its annual meeting is branded.

“Hot damn I love you guys,” Musk said to the carefully-selected audience of retail investors. “We have the most awesome shareholder base of any public company . . . we are not starting a new chapter, but opening a new book.”

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The victories were not unexpected after Musk posted on X on Wednesday night that both resolutions were “currently passing by wide margins!”

Tesla shares rose 3 per cent on Thursday after his post, but have fallen 27 per cent so far this year.

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