Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
French Socialist challenger François Hollande beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of France's presidential election yesterday by 28 percent to 27 percent, even as far-right candidate Marine Le Pen captured an unprecedented 18 percent of the vote. Hollande and Sarkozy will face off in the final runoff vote on May 6 (Guardian), in an election that is expected to have significant implications for European integration and the eurozone's response to its ongoing sovereign debt crisis.
"Mr. Sarkozy will have to find a way to attract most of Ms. Le Pen's votes as well as the 9.2 percent who voted for centrist Francois Bayrou, who finished fifth. This is no easy task, and his appeal will probably include a combination of anti-immigration riffs and more attacks on the European Central Bank (which has become the modern French substitute for running against the Germans)," notes this Wall Street Journal editorial.
"And the wooing of what many people consider to be xenophobic, Muslim-baiting, anti-European voters has caused many of his mainstream supporters to flee in revolt. Indeed, in order to win the runoff, Sarkozy must not only lure extreme-right-wing voters, but also Bayrou's centrist supporters, who are repelled by the president's appeals to Le Pen's flock," notes TIME's Bruce Crumley.
North Korea Threatens South
North Korea threatened today to attack South Korean targets by "unprecedented peculiar means" (Yonhap), amid rising tensions between the two nations following a failed North Korean rocket launch earlier this month.
This CFR Crisis Guide offers a multimedia overview of the dispute between North and South Korea.
MYANMAR: Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party boycotted parliament today (BBC) following a dispute over the oath of office requiring new parliamentarians to promise to "safeguard the constitution," which the NLD has vowed to amend.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
U.S., Afghanistan Complete Strategic Partnership Overview
The United States and Afghanistan completed a draft of a strategic partnership agreement yesterday, promising U.S. support for Afghanistan for ten years (NYT) after U.S. troops withdraw from the country in 2014.
This CFR Timeline examines the events that precipitated the U.S. war in Afghanistan as well as the history of the war.
BANGLADESH: The disappearance of opposition leader Ilyas Ali (al-Jazeera) triggered a nationwide strike, culminating in violent clashes between protesters and police.
Iran Says It Cracked U.S. Secret Codes From Drone
Iran claimed to have unlocked the secret codes of a U.S. spy drone that crashed on Iranian territory in December, and has allegedly reverse-engineered the aircraft (Independent).
CFR's Micah Zenko explains the creation, use, and future of drones in this Foreign Policy article.
EGYPT: The country cancelled a twenty-year contract to supply natural gas to Israel (Guardian) following a dispute over payments between private companies, officials from both countries said. The move further escalates tensions between the two neighbors, which signed a landmark peace treaty in 1979.
Sudan Bombs South Sudan
Sudan carried out air strikes on a South Sudanese oil town (Reuters) near the countries' shared border, killing three people. The move came three days after South Sudan vowed to pull out of the disputed Heglig oil field, which it had occupied for ten days.
Meanwhile, Sudanese forces killed hundreds of South Sudanese (SAPA/AFP) in a battle in Heglig yesterday, a senior Sudanese official said, even as South Sudan said it had completed its pullout from the region.
Dutch Austerity Talks Collapse
Negotiations over fresh austerity measures between the center-right party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the right-wing Freedom Party collapsed over the weekend, calling into question the Netherlands' ability to tackle its mounting budget deficit and contracting economy (WSJ). Rutte is reportedly set to submit his resignation as prime minister today (BBC).
Spain's Repsol Warns of Legal Action over YPF Investors
Spanish oil company Repsol warned it could take legal action against companies that invest in Argentinean energy company YPF (Reuters). The Argentinean government seized control over the firm last week, which had been majority-owned by Repsol.
MEXICO: An examination by the New York Times documents widespread corruption at Wal-Mart's Mexican subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico, and a failure of Wal-Mart's executives to pursue an investigation into evidence showing the company used bribery to secure a greater market presence in Mexico.
Axelrod Makes Obama's Economic Case
President Obama's chief campaign strategist, David Axelrod, appearing on both Meet the Press (NBC) and State of the Union (CNN) said the economy is "moving in the right direction," with last quarter's job creation and manufacturing numbers the best they have been in years. The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that less than half of voters polled approve of the president's handling of the economy.
Republican front-runner Mitt Romney took his budget message to Pennsylvania (PublicOpinion) over the weekend, outlining his proposed spending increases for the military and plans to reduce other parts of the federal government.
The Associated Press contends increased defense spending and reduced government deficits under the Romney plan would mean less money for health care for the poor and disabled, and big cuts to day-to-day federal government operations.