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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
  2. <rss version="2.0">
  3. <channel>
  4. <title>Seychelles News Agency</title>
  5. <link></link>
  6. <description>Real time news provider in English that informs its readers about the latest Seychelles news.</description>
  7. <language>en</language>
  8. <copyright>2019 Seychelles News Agency</copyright>
  11. <item>
  12. <title>Ramaphosa to be sworn in as president of South Africa</title>
  13. <link></link>
  14. <guid>11030</guid>
  15. <category>Africa</category>
  16. <pubDate>Sat, 25 May 2019 10:35:05 +0200</pubDate>
  17. <enclosure url="" type="image/jpeg" />
  18. <description><![CDATA[<p>Cyril Ramaphosa takes the oath of office on Saturday as president of South Africa, facing a brew of expectations and scepticism after vowing to reform the country and revive its economy.</p>
  19. <p>Foreign heads of state will be among 36,000 people expected to witness the ceremony at a rugby stadium in the capital Pretoria.</p>
  20. <p>The 66-year-old leader was unanimously elected by parliament after his African National Congress (ANC) won legislative elections on May 8, winning 230 of the 400 seats.</p>
  21. <p>The victory was earned with 57.5 percent of the vote -- the party's lowest share of the ballot since it overturned apartheid 25 years ago.</p>
  22. <p>Ramaphosa is a trade unionist who played a prominent part in the struggle to end white-minority rule before becoming a successful businessman.</p>
  23. <p>His inauguration speech will be scrutinised for clues as to how he plans to tackle the country's many problems.</p>
  24. <p>They range from a sickly economy in which more than a quarter of the workforce is jobless to entrenched crime and corruption and land ownership that remains overwhelmingly in the hands of whites.</p>
  25. <p>Many solutions will require him to inch his way across the high wire, balancing leftwing calls for radical change with demands by investors for caution.</p>
  26. <p>In his acceptance speech to lawmakers on Wednesday, Ramaphosa vowed his government was all "about change, and you are going to see the change."</p>
  27. <p>"We have been given this responsibility on an overriding basis to revive our economy, to create jobs, to not only bring hope to the masses of our people, to actualise that hope and make sure that indeed their aspirations are met."</p>
  28. <p><strong>- Cabinet test -</strong></p>
  29. <p>Ramaphosa's first test as he starts his new five-year term will be choosing a cabinet -- a task beset by rival factions within the ANC.</p>
  30. <p>He is expected to name his new cabinet within days after his inauguration, but his choice of vice president hangs in the balance after his deputy David Mabuza said Wednesday he would defer taking his seat as a lawmaker.</p>
  31. <p>An ANC integrity commission report has alleged Mabuza -- the party's No. 2 -- "prejudiced the integrity of the ANC and brought the organisation into disrepute".</p>
  32. <p>Ramaphosa first took power last year when the ANC forced Jacob Zuma to resign after nine years in office, and vowed to root out corruption.</p>
  33. <p>"The clean-up is ongoing, the cabinet will be broadly clean and meet some notional standard or threshold the market is looking for," predicted Peter Attard Montalto of the British-based advisory service Intellidex.</p>
  34. <p><strong>- Stadium ceremony -</strong></p>
  35. <p>Breaking with tradition Ramaphosa's swearing-in ceremony has been moved from the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings -- the seat of government, where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country's first black president in 1994.</p>
  36. <p>All other leaders after Mandela have taken their oaths at the Union Buildings, whose grounds can accommodate only up to 4,500 people.</p>
  37. <p>But this year the event has been moved to the 52,000-seater Loftus Versfeld rugby stadium, a move organisers said is more inclusive and will allow more people to witness the event.</p>
  38. <p>More than 2,500 police are being deployed for security, while a battalion of soldiers will be inside the stadium to perform ceremonial parades.</p>
  39. <p>The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has castigated government for what it called "wasteful" expenditure of 120 million rand ($8.3 million) for the ceremony.</p>
  40. <p>"It is no secret that the South African economy is in dire straits," said a senior DA lawmaker, John Steenhuisen.</p>
  41. <p>© Agence France-Presse</p>]]></description>
  42. </item>
  44. <item>
  45. <title>Seychelles expected to transition power production to liquefied natural gas in deal with Mozambique</title>
  46. <link></link>
  47. <guid>11028</guid>
  48. <category>General</category>
  49. <pubDate>Sat, 25 May 2019 10:12:54 +0200</pubDate>
  50. <enclosure url="" type="image/jpeg" />
  51. <description><![CDATA[<p>Seychelles is expected to have its first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) power station by 2023 following discussions with the government of Mozambique earlier this week, said the finance minister of the island nation.</p>
  52. <p>Finding a source of energy to replace Seychelles' reliance on heavy fuel to generate electricity was one of the main reasons for the state visit to Mozambique, the Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, said at a press conference at Polana Serena Hotel in Maputo.</p>
  53. <p>President Danny Faure and his delegation visited Mozambique’s LNG power plant during the four-day state visit.   </p>
  54. <p>Mozambique, which recently discovered LNG sources, has the third-largest gas reserves in the world after Qatar and Russia.</p>
  55. <p>“Mozambique has not only discovered the natural reserves but the reserves are located in the northern part of the country, closer to Seychelles, making it more accessible as it would reduce transportation costs to Seychelles. We feel that we can now start the transition to switch to LNG,” said Loustau Lalanne.</p>
  56. <p>The Finance Minister said that Seychelles will now carry out a feasibility study to see how to proceed with the project.</p>
  57. <p>In his State of the Nation address last year, President Faure announced the government’s plan to invest in new generators that produce electricity with LNG. This he said was more efficient, more cost-effective in the long-term, and will reduce the cost of electricity production.</p>
  58. <p>For Seychelles, which prides itself on environment protection, the project would align with the country’s sustainable vision.</p>
  59. <p>Mozambique is expected to start exporting its natural gas in 2022.</p>
  60. <p>Loustau Lalanne said the visit has allowed the island nation to start negotiations and to express its interest as a potential buyer.</p>
  61. <p>“We do not have enough money to build a similar power station as we’ve seen in Mozambique. At the same time, we cannot build a new one and then do the switch. Seychelles needs to implement this transition step by step and this is what we are negotiating with Mozambique. We want to be on that list for when they are ready to export the natural gas and the earlier we start the negotiation the better,” he said.</p>
  62. <p>Meanwhile, Seychelles plans to sign an agreement with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation to carry out the feasibility study and oversee the transition from heavy fuel to natural gas.</p>
  63. <p>The Washington-based institution offers investment, advisory, and asset management services to encourage private-sector development in less developed countries.</p>
  64. <p>“We are looking at different options and new technologies. One such option we can explore is to have the generators on a ship and then connect to the mainland. Switching to LNG is the only way forward and we have to look at the best possible option to do just that in the interest of the country,” said Loustau Lalanne.</p>
  65. <p>Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, relies heavily on imported fossil fuel for power generation and transportation. Currently, only 2.5 percent of the island nation's electrical energy is from renewable sources.</p>
  66. <p>The LNG power plant is part of the six major infrastructure projects currently being developed in the country and it will be implemented by the Public Utilities Corporation, PUC.</p>
  67. <p>The cost of the project is estimated at $216 million.  </p>]]></description>
  68. </item>
  70. <item>
  71. <title>In need of more programming, Seychelles Broadcasting Corp. asks private production houses for their ideas</title>
  72. <link></link>
  73. <guid>11027</guid>
  74. <category>General</category>
  75. <pubDate>Fri, 24 May 2019 16:11:38 +0200</pubDate>
  76. <enclosure url="" type="image/jpeg" />
  77. <description><![CDATA[<p>The Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) is seeking to diversify its television content by asking local media production houses to create and sell television shows for the island nation's flagship station. </p>
  78. <p>Currently, most of the local contents broadcast on SBC television was being produced in-house. With the company’s migration to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) in June 2018 the company has been running two channels – SBC1 and SBC2.</p>
  79. <p>In its new policy for the procurement of local content, SBC outlined that there is “insufficient content generally to sustain two SBC channels in the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) era.”</p>
  80. <p>Speaking to SNA on Thursday, the deputy chief executive of SBC, Jude Louange, said that there this is one of the reasons why the corporation is reaching out to private production houses.</p>
  81. <p>“Local content is a strong point for the SBC and something that viewers want to see more. We know the ability of many people who have local production houses as they have worked for SBC before, hence they are able to help SBC,” said Louange.</p>
  82. <p>He added that outsourcing content will also help local businesses to grow.</p>
  83. <p>The founder of SeyMedia, Colin Woodcock, confirmed Louange’s point and added that his company’s scope of work will also grow.</p>
  84. <p>“Most independent production houses were mainly producing advertisements for other companies. Now that SBC is sourcing for local content, we will be able to widen our scope of work and venture into film and series production, a genre that didn’t have much of an outlet,” said Woodcock.</p>
  85. <p>He added that production companies can now be more creative and productive.</p>
  86. <p>“It will also allow producers to focus on one type of genre and specialise in the field,” said Woodcock.</p>
  87. <p>In terms of categories, SBC is looking for drama, documentary, news and current affairs, entertainment, music videos among others. Louange outlined that it is important that producers engage with SBC before working on projects.</p>
  88. <p>“Once you have an idea, approach us. We do not want them to invest in a project and later find that it doesn’t meet our standard or that it is not what we were looking for. On the other hand, SBC can suggest to the production houses what content it wants,” said Louange.</p>
  89. <p>Content provided must have audience appeal, be of high quality, and meet editorial standards among other criteria.</p>
  90. <p>Rates to be paid to producers will vary depending on different factors such as the type of content, genre, originality, appeal, the sustainability of the programme, affordability, ownership and rights.</p>
  91. <p>Interested parties are asked to contact SBC by emailing <a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a> or by calling <a href="callto:+2484289600">+2484289600</a>. </p>]]></description>
  92. </item>
  94. <item>
  95. <title>Ocean is beating blue heart of planet, Seychelles' president tells Blue Economy conference in Mozambique</title>
  96. <link></link>
  97. <guid>11026</guid>
  98. <category>General</category>
  99. <pubDate>Fri, 24 May 2019 13:25:30 +0200</pubDate>
  100. <enclosure url="" type="image/jpeg" />
  101. <description><![CDATA[<p>A healthy ocean is important for more than just economic growth; it is crucial for the survival of humanity, the Seychelles’ president said at the official opening of the Blue Economy conference in Mozambique, State House said on Thursday.</p>
  102. <p>As a champion for the Blue Economy in Africa, President Danny Faure is a guest of honour at the conference, which is being held under the theme ‘Growing Blue: Sustainable and Shared Exploitation of the Ocean.’</p>
  103. <p>In his keynote address, Faure highlighted the importance of a collective and sustainable approach towards ocean conservation for the future of the planet.</p>
  104. <p>“Our ocean is our most precious resource. We recognise not just its vast potential, but also the fragility of its ecosystems and the need to preserve it for future generations. In actuality the ocean is not just Seychelles’ biggest asset, it is the biggest asset for all citizens of the world, be they inhabitants of islands, coastal states and even land-locked countries,” he said.</p>
  105. <p>The head of state of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, highlighted the reason why the ocean is crucial for the survival of humanity.</p>
  106. <p>“Two-thirds of our planet is blue. The ocean is the beating blue heart of our planet. The ocean is the world’s largest ecosystem. It generates half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs more than 30 percent of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere,” he said.</p>
  107. <p>Faure quoted a 2015 report of the World Wildlife Fund which stated that the economic value generated by the oceans is worth at least 24 trillion dollars.</p>
  108. <p>The two-day conference was officially opened on Thursday by Mozambican President Filipe.</p>
  109. <p>According to the <a href="">Club of Mozambique</a> online news service, the Mozambican President said, “In organising this international conference that we call ‘Growing Blue’, we are doing so not just as a platform for dialogue, through which we are joining the global movement, but also to express the desire, together with our neighbours in the western Indian Ocean region, to contribute to an ever better future for our planet.”  </p>]]></description>
  110. </item>
  112. <item>
  113. <title>British PM's time in power set to end in Brexit humiliation</title>
  114. <link></link>
  115. <guid>11025</guid>
  116. <category>General</category>
  117. <pubDate>Fri, 24 May 2019 13:15:00 +0200</pubDate>
  118. <enclosure url="" type="image/jpeg" />
  119. <description><![CDATA[<p>Battered British Prime Minister Theresa May's short but dramatic tenure is set to end after her legacy-defining battle to win parliamentary approval for her Brexit deal proved too elusive.</p>
  120. <p>The Conservative leader won praise for her determination and ability to survive what often felt like a three-year political crisis since the referendum vote.</p>
  121. <p>But her approach to the Brexit endgame, refusing to accept MPs' trenchant opposition to her deal before belatedly opening ultimately futile negotiations with Labour, has left May politically abandoned.</p>
  122. <p>By twice delaying Britain's exit from the European Union and dangling the carrot of a second referendum if opposition MPs voted for her deal, she prompted anger and frustration among Brexit supporters and ridicule from Remainers.</p>
  123. <p>In a forlorn bid in March to appease the most ardent eurosceptic MPs in her party, May offered to resign if they finally approved her deal. But several dozen rebelled anyway, consigning it to a third defeat in parliament and leaving her mortally weakened.</p>
  124. <p>She was then forced by her party to agree to set out a timetable for her departure, but asked for time to give lawmakers a fourth chance to vote on the agreement in early June.</p>
  125. <p>However, her own MPs' patience ran out. Unimpressed by changes to the deal and with potential new leaders already jostling for position, they have ensured her time in Downing Street is coming to an end in near total humiliation.</p>
  126. <p>"She has failed," said Simon Usherwood, from the University of Surrey's politics department. "There's very little to commend her.</p>
  127. <p>"She doesn't really have a legacy," he said.</p>
  128. <p><strong>- 'Goody two shoes' -</strong></p>
  129. <p>The daughter of a Church of England vicar, May was born on October 1, 1956 in Eastbourne -- a seaside town in southern England where her father was a chaplain at the local hospital.</p>
  130. <p>She has described herself in interviews as a "goody two shoes" whose Protestant faith defined her upbringing.</p>
  131. <p>She listened to cricket matches on the radio with her father and knew that she wanted to become a politician when she was just 12.</p>
  132. <p>May studied geography and met her husband Philip at Oxford university before joining the Bank of England.</p>
  133. <p>The two never had children and May devoted herself to a life of public service that saw her become Conservative Party chairwoman in 2002.</p>
  134. <p>May made her first splash by telling her Tories at an annual conference to stop being "the nasty party" if they wanted to unseat then-popular Labour leader Tony Blair.</p>
  135. <p>But a 2010-16 stint as home secretary saw May adopt isolationist rhetoric that included a vow to create "a really hostile environment for illegal migration".</p>
  136. <p><strong>- 'Maybot' -</strong></p>
  137. <p>She took office in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum which swept away her predecessor David Cameron.</p>
  138. <p>Despite having campaigned to stay in the EU, May embraced the cause with the mantra "Brexit means Brexit".</p>
  139. <p>Her promise to leave the EU's institutions and end free movement of workers delighted eurosceptic MPs, but caused dismay among many pro-Europeans.</p>
  140. <p>The splits in her Conservative party became a serious problem after a disastrous snap election in June 2017, when she lost her parliamentary majority.</p>
  141. <p>May was forced to strike a deal with Northern Ireland's pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and since then has struggled to keep her party and its allies together.</p>
  142. <p>Naturally reserved and reliant on her husband and a few close aides, she often says she is just quietly "getting on with the job".</p>
  143. <p>But in the last election, the leader struggled to engage with voters and was dubbed the "Maybot" after churning out the same answers and speeches over and over again.</p>
  144. <p><strong>- 'Closed' style -</strong></p>
  145. <p>May has been written off before, with columnist Matthew Parris -- a former Conservative MP -- calling her the "zombie prime minister" for her ability to stagger on despite multiple attacks.</p>
  146. <p>She has survived the resignations of a string of high-profile Brexit supporters, notably former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, and has endured constant sniping from MPs on the sidelines.</p>
  147. <p>She won a leadership challenge within her own Conservatives in December, a victory that made her immune from a similar challenge for a year.</p>
  148. <p>But ultimately her closed style of leadership and Brexit gridlock in parliament doomed her premiership.</p>
  149. <p>"It's hard to think of a Tory politician who would have been the perfect PM (prime minister) in such circumstances," Tim Bale, politics professor at Queen Mary University of London told AFP.</p>
  150. <p>"But it's just as hard to think of anyone who would have been much worse than her."</p>
  151. <p>© Agence France-Presse</p>]]></description>
  152. </item>
  154. <item>
  155. <title>Poverty survey in Seychelles finds 4,000 families struggling to afford basic necessities</title>
  156. <link></link>
  157. <guid>11008</guid>
  158. <category>National</category>
  159. <pubDate>Fri, 24 May 2019 10:10:24 +0200</pubDate>
  160. <enclosure url="" type="image/jpeg" />
  161. <description><![CDATA[<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">A survey by the National Bureau of Statistics found that 4,000 households in Seychelles are struggling and cannot afford to pay for basic necessities. The Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey on Poverty Alleviation released last week found that the families were having difficulty paying rent, utilities and buy food.</p>
  162. <p style="text-align: left;" align="center">The islands of Seychelles boast world-class beaches and five-star luxury that attract an elite class of tourist. But the archipelago's tourism dollars aren't trickling down to the nation's poorest citizens: dozens of homes don't have electricity, indoor toilet facilities or treated drinking water.</p>
  163. <p>The deputy chief executive of the bureau, Helena De Letourdis, said, “This shows that 32 percent of the population of Seychelles is multi-dimensionally poor and experiencing deprivation related to the standard of living, education, health, nutrition and employment.”</p>
  164. <p>The minimum earnings in Seychelles, as per latest information released in March this year is around $1,000 a month. The survey results did not come as a surprise to residents SNA spoke with. </p>
  165. <p>“As a pensioner, I know how tough life is as I am also paying a loan. Bills are always increasing and even though we all contribute towards expenses. We still struggle to buy food, which is also expensive,” said Caroline Ernesta of Beauvallon.</p>
  166. <p>De Letourdis was making a presentation at a symposium last week to discuss the interventions to address this issue. According to De Letourdis different indicators were used for the survey, which was conducted from April 2017 to August 2018.</p>
  167. <table style="height: 64px;" width="621">
  168. <tbody>
  169. <tr>
  170. <td><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="" alt="" /></td>
  171. </tr>
  172. <tr>
  173. <td>De Letourdis (first left) making the first presentation on the findings of the regional poverty survey. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: <a href="" target="_blank">CC-BY</a> </td>
  174. </tr>
  175. </tbody>
  176. </table>
  177. <p>These included overcrowding, condition of the dwelling, access to electricity and safe drinking water, food consumption, substance use and abuse, teenage pregnancy, school attendance, unemployment and youth not in employment.</p>
  178. <p>“The monitoring survey was done in phases at regional levels, targeting 5,910 specific homes with 22,215 inhabitants. Apart from looking at living conditions, the survey was also based on monetary standards as a benchmark to define poverty alleviation,” explained De Letourdis.</p>
  179. <p>The survey was done on all the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue of Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. There are approximately 30,000 households on the island nation. Those chosen for the survey were households which the district authorities felt were living in poverty.</p>
  180. <p>Key findings included 398 houses do not have treated water whilst 79 are without electricity. Sixty-eight homes were found not to have toilet facilities and 63 families are living in houses made from earth.</p>
  181. <p>The principal policy analyst at the Poverty Alleviation Department, Ziggy Adam, explained that the findings of the survey will assist all ministries and other organisations concerned to come up with appropriate interventions.</p>
  182. <p>“One thing which comes out across the board in the survey is the issue of housing,” explained Adam. The survey has found that up to seven people are living in a bedsitter.</p>
  183. <p>“We had found people in extreme cases that we had to come up with interventions without having to wait for the final findings of the survey,” said Adam, who added that a rapid assessment team was set up for this purpose.</p>
  184. <p>Adam elaborated by saying that all that is needed to address the issue is already in place. “We now have to put all our efforts in redirecting those in need to the right agency so that they can be assisted rapidly.”</p>
  185. <p>SNA spoke to a few people to get their reactions over the findings.</p>
  186. <p>Mark Nanon - a resident of Mont Buxton - said he is not surprised at all, “as these situations have existed for some time but these were kept hidden instead of being dealt with.”</p>
  187. <p>“Am shocked! In this day and age, there are still people living in earth houses, with no toilets and electricity. Something must be done now, now, to address this inequality in a country where poverty was said to be a perception,“ said Daniella Marie – a marketing executive of Copolia.</p>
  188. <p>The result from the survey will at the national level, provide the necessity for a possible review of existing policies of government departments and agencies whose mandates directly have an effect on parts of the dimension of poverty in the country.</p>]]></description>
  189. </item>
  191. <item>
  192. <title>EU elections shift to Ireland as populist forces gather elsewhere</title>
  193. <link></link>
  194. <guid>11021</guid>
  195. <category>General</category>
  196. <pubDate>Fri, 24 May 2019 08:30:00 +0200</pubDate>
  197. <enclosure url="" type="image/jpeg" />
  198. <description><![CDATA[<p>Phased EU-wide elections take place in Ireland on Friday after a campaign dominated by concerns over neighbouring Britain's messy bid to leave the bloc, and as eurosceptic forces elsewhere in Europe hope to create a political earthquake.</p>
  199. <p>Citizens in Ireland, where support for the European Union has risen because of Brexit, start voting at 7:00 am (0600 GMT).</p>
  200. <p>Also on Friday the Czech Republic will kick off its two-day voting process, a day after residents cast their votes in Britain and also in the Netherlands where the Labour party scored a surprise victory to win most seats in the elections.</p>
  201. <p>In Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May is on the brink of resigning having not fulfilled her promise to lead the country out of the EU by March 29.</p>
  202. <p>The Brexit Party, which was only set up this year by veteran eurosceptic Nigel Farage, is expected to score a resounding victory in Britain's vote.</p>
  203. <p>The anticipated success of the Brexit Party, polling at around 35 percent, is emblematic of rising anti-establishment forces across Europe.</p>
  204. <p>Around the continent, where most EU member states vote on Sunday, pro-European leaders are scrambling to mobilise their supporters to resist the populist surge, with opinion polls showing nationalist parties in the lead in France, Italy and Hungary, among others.</p>
  205. <p>They fear a good showing for the eurosceptics will disrupt Brussels' decision-making and threaten reform efforts for closer integration.</p>
  206. <p><strong>- 'It's been disgraceful' -</strong></p>
  207. <p>The elections for the European Parliament held in Britain Thursday were a surreal spectacle for a country that voted almost three years ago to leave the EU.</p>
  208. <p>May had promised that Britain would not take part in this year's polls, but failure to get parliamentary approval for her Brexit deal left the country with no choice.</p>
  209. <p>Her Conservative party's predicted wipeout has left her teetering on the edge, with her resignation expected imminently.</p>
  210. <p>"It's been disgraceful the way the government has gone on," said Brexit Party voter Chris Fetherstone, 73, in the northern England town of Middlesbrough.</p>
  211. <p>"What Theresa May has said, about leaving, she's never meant it."</p>
  212. <p>Artist Gordon Dickson, 47, expressed the opposite as he voted in Glasgow.</p>
  213. <p>"I wanted to make sure that my voice about saying Scotland should be remaining part of the European Union was heard and heard really clearly," he said.</p>
  214. <p><strong>- Nationalist surge -</strong></p>
  215. <p>More than 400 million European voters are eligible to elect 751 members of the European Parliament, with the first results to be announced late Sunday once voting in all 28 member states has been completed.</p>
  216. <p>Matteo Salvini of Italy's anti-immigrant League and Marine Le Pen of France's far-right National Rally (RN) want their Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group to become the third largest in Brussels. The League has topped opinion polls in Italy.</p>
  217. <p>For her part Le Pen wants to strike a blow to Emmanuel Macron's faltering French presidency by overtaking his centrist, pro-European party Republic on the Move (LREM).</p>
  218. <p>Polls give her RN party a slight edge, with around 23 percent support.</p>
  219. <p>"Everything has changed," Le Pen told AFP.</p>
  220. <p>"In the space of a few months, a whole range of political forces have risen up in spectacular fashion."</p>
  221. <p>However, in the Netherlands leftists notched up an unexpected victory to take the most seats on Thursday, beating the party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and an upstart populist group, an exit poll said.</p>
  222. <p><strong>- Pro-EU resistance -</strong></p>
  223. <p>The strong showing by eurosceptics is not expected to sweep the whole bloc, with voters from Spain to the former Soviet Baltic states indicating solid backing for the EU.</p>
  224. <p>In Germany, surveys show Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party -- a heavyweight in the EU-wide centre-right EPP group -- in first place, with the Greens second.</p>
  225. <p>In Ireland, the Brexit crisis has been the key issue due to the future its border with the British-ruled province of Northern Ireland, a key sticking point in negotiations between London and Brussels.</p>
  226. <p>Most mainstream parties in Ireland have campaigned heavily on cementing its place in the European project.</p>
  227. <p>MEP hopefuls also pledged to dampen the economic shock predicted to radiate into Ireland as a result of its largest trading partner leaving the bloc.</p>
  228. <p>© Agence France-Presse</p>]]></description>
  229. </item>
  230. </channel>
  231. </rss>
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