Political earthquake in Northern Ireland


Following the general election in Northern Ireland on 5 May, the Republican party Sinn Féin came out on top with 29% of the vote. This is a historic score for the party, which advocates the reunification of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland, and which for the first time has come out on top in the Northern Ireland general election. There is no doubt that the Brexit and its consequences offer Northern Ireland the historic prospect of Irish reunification. Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which ended 30 years of unrest and violence, local government has been governed on the principle of consociationalism so that Protestant unionists and Catholic nationalists can live together in the same government. Each party gets a number of ministers in the government in proportion to its election score. The future of Northern Ireland is more than ever in question.


Finland and Sweden want to join NATO


Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, public opinion in Finland and Sweden, historically marked by a high degree of neutrality, has gradually shifted in favor of NATO membership for their respective countries. This was followed by their respective Prime Ministers, Sanna Marin and Magdalena Andersson. The national parliaments of both countries, after consultations, have also voted in favor. Russia considers the membership drive to be a mistake, as Finland shares over 1,000 kilometers of border with Russia. For its part, the historical member of NATO would like to prevent the two Nordic countries from joining NATO, arguing that Kurdish PKK militants who have taken refuge in these countries have been refused extradition, as the PKK is considered a terrorist organization by the Turkish government.


Mariupol has fallen


After two months and 26 days of tenacious resistance, the last Ukrainian fighters surrendered to the Russian armed forces on May, 20th. Holed up in the Azovstal metallurgical factory, they were fighting against an enemy four times their number. On both sides, the losses are very heavy: there is talk of 6,000 dead on the Russian side and 4,000 on the Ukrainian side, not counting the wounded, prisoners and missing. This Pyrrhic victory allowed Russia and its supporters to control the Azov Sea coast. The Russian offensive, if successful, could eventually deprive Ukraine of any outlet to the Black Sea, as Odessa, a city at the other end of the Ukrainian coastline, has also been attacked. The Russian offensive could eventually encircle Ukraine from the east, north and south, pushing it westwards and greatly reducing its size.


Monkeypox comes to Europe


The Covid-19 pandemic has barely ended, but a new epidemiological threat is looming over humanity. Several European countries have reported cases of a new disease: monkeypox. This virus has already caused epidemics in Africa in the past. First in the United Kingdom, then in Austria, Scotland, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Malta, Hungary and Norway: many European countries are already affected. The virus is believed to have arrived in Europe via a traveler returning from Nigeria.  A first death has been reported in Nigeria. Epidemiologists know very little about the virus at the moment.


A woman at the new head of the French government


One of President Macron’s loyalists, former Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne was appointed Prime Minister on 16 May, replacing Jean Castex who resigned. She is Emmanuel Macron’s third prime minister, and the second woman to hold the post in France, after socialist Édith Cresson, prime minister of François Mitterrand from 1991 to 1992.