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French elections and more
The French election has been a rare burst of sunshine for the beleaguered European Union.

The victory of centrist Emmanuel Macron has been hailed as the high water mark for conservative politics. However, the situation in Europe and America is bleak in the long term for local liberals as well as job seekers from abroad. Macron had been the most likely victor for some time, although the electoral process has been one of the most tumultuous in recent history. Early front-runner, Francois Fillon, was undone by a string of scandals - most memorably that he and his wife Penelope were involved in embezzlement.  

Macron faces an uphill battle. The last minute hack of his campaign emails seems likely to have some link to Russia, given Marine Le Pen’s affinity for Vladimir Putin. The rumours that Macron has an offshore account are likely to persist, weakening his moral capital. While 

Macron won the second round with roughly twice as many votes as Le Pen, he will have to contend with an increasingly mainstream voice on the far right - one, which will gain strength with any mistakes, he makes. 


Onward march...

The new president also faces serious obstacles from his unorthodox background. A former finance minister under the highly unpopular Socialist Francois Hollande, Macron resigned to form his own party, En Marche! (‘Onwards!’). Winning the presidential election with a year-old party means that Macron now faces the unenviable challenge of winning a legislative election with no established base. Should he fail, he may be forced to choose a prime minister from outside his party  leaving him in a similar position of weakness as President Barack Obama under the Republican majority. Macron lacks a friendly parliamentary party to count on. Conservatives, the far-right and the far-left view him as insufficiently different from Francois Hollande, his former mentor and widely derided for the economic stagnation which France has suffered from under his governance. By contrast, the Socialist Party may feel discomfort with supporting a defector from their ranks.


Less than keen to take foreign workers...

While India has long-term ties with the now EU departing United Kingdom, the sheer size of the European Union makes it a supportive partner for trade. Nevertheless, ten years after talks started, the India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) remains elusive. The deal, allowing for reduced tariffs and allowing more movement of IT professionals from India to EU nations, was effectively restarted late last year. In part, this is because the EU is cumbersome, fractious and often ineffective. Outside of Germany and France, many member states are less than keen to take in foreign workers. At the same time, the UK and the US have grown increasingly hostile to both students and employees from abroad. In Britain, Theresa May has stuck to the proposal to bring net migration down to 100,000. 

In America, the situation is more complicated because of the protectionist, anti-outsourcing rhetoric. While President Donald Trump’s proposal for the H1B Visa programme was less stringent than thought, the chilling effects for Indian workers are already evident. IT firm Infosys announced on 2 May that it would be hiring 10,000 American. At present, over half of the 24,000 Indian workers in America are on H1B visas, though whether this proportion will shift increasingly in favour of American workers is uncertain at present. 

At higher levels, actions are being taken in an attempt to limit the damage the Trump presidency might hold for Indian workers. On 3 May the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin met with 31 lawmakers to present a white paper, laying out proposals related to Obamacare, protection from hate speech and the immigration process. 

Meanwhile, a study by the Graduate Management Admissions Council found international representation in MBA programmes was down across the board - yet another sign that Trump’s rhetoric is a real concern for international students, including Indians. 

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