Monday Briefing: Left Surges in French Election

A coalition of left-wing parties known as the New Popular Front was projected to come in first in legislative elections in France, capturing more seats in the National Assembly than the far-right National Rally party or the centrist Renaissance party of President Emmanuel Macron.

Projections based on preliminary results upended expectations of a clear victory for Marine Le Pen’s right-wing, anti-immigrant National Rally, which dominated the first round of voting a week ago.

Candidates across France dropped out of three-way races and called for unity against the National Rally. Now, it appears that the scramble by centrists and the left to form a “Republican front” to stymie the National Rally in the second round of voting worked.

The election was still a major blow to Macron, who lost more than a third of the seats held by his party and its allies. He is left with a deeply divided lower house of Parliament, no governing coalition immediately likely and the Paris Olympics set to open in less than three weeks. Sustained political deadlock is a distinct possibility.

The New Popular Front campaigned on raising the monthly minimum wage, lowering the legal retirement age, reintroducing a wealth tax and freezing the price of energy and gas. Instead of cutting immigration, as the National Rally vowed, the alliance said it would make the asylum process more generous and smooth.

Here is more about the New Popular Front, and this is why some rural voters became National Rally supporters.

In an election upset in Iran, a candidate who advocated moderate domestic policies and improved relations with the West won the presidential runoff against a hard-line rival on Saturday. The special election was called after President Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash in May.

Masoud Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old cardiac surgeon, secured 16.3 million votes, about 3 million more than those received by his conservative opponent, Saeed Jalili. It was a major victory for the country’s relatively moderate reformist camp, which has been sidelined in the past few years.

The first round of voting had a record low turnout as many Iranians boycotted it in protest. But the prospect of a hard-line administration, which could have reinforced strict social rules and exacerbated economic troubles by failing to negotiate to lift international sanctions, apparently pushed voters to turn out.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wields the most power in government. But analysts said the incoming president would set domestic policy and influence the shape of foreign policies. Here are four takeaways.

What’s next: With Pezeshkian as president, Iran may see a softening of its absolutist foreign policy and even an opportunity for a new diplomatic opening.

At least 32 people have been abducted or arbitrarily detained in Kenya over the past two weeks, according to interviews with human rights monitors and dozens of activists, including five who recounted being seized. A few are still missing, lawyers said.

Several people said they were snatched by government security forces, beaten and interrogated after they spoke out against a contentious bill to raise taxes in the East African nation. William Ruto, Kenya’s president, abandoned the bill last month after at least 39 people died in protests that swept through the country.

The Orient Express conjures up visions of a five-star luxury train with every belle epoque bell and whistle. A sleeper on the modern version can cost nearly $50,000, but you can D.I.Y. the trip from Paris to Istanbul — private compartments included — for less than $1,000. Our correspondent tested the ride.

The Paris Olympics this month could be the hottest in history, surpassing the Tokyo Games in 2021. Training for the Olympics is now as much about athletes’ ability to handle the heat as it is about strength and speed, and the best preparation is training for two to three weeks in sweltering temperatures.

Some runners use a heat-retaining garment one coach described as a “marshmallow suit” to approximate those conditions. Belgium’s field hockey team trained in a heat chamber set to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 Celsius). Other athletes try to stay cool by wearing ice vests before races or clutching frozen balloons.

See how they’re competing despite the heat.

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