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The Cable

The Weekend Behind, the Week Ahead: Vive Le Pen, Don’t Take out Banners in Russia, and Maybe Cabinet Picks

From Mitt Romney to Marine Le Pen, Italian politics to a Colombian peace deal, here's what happened in the world this weekend.


It was a revolving door this weekend for President-elect Donald Trump, who met both with potential Cabinet picks and foreign business partners.

Most notably, on Saturday, Trump sat down with Mitt Romney, who is reportedly being considered for secretary of state, and retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, whom Trump himself tweeted is being eyed for secretary of defense. Trump apparently also recently met with Indian business partners who are building a Trump-branded complex near Mumbai. This has some concerned about whether Trump can keep his business, government, and Make America Great Again hats separate, particularly given that foreign diplomats say they believe it is in their best diplomatic interest to stay at Trump’s hotel when in D.C.

But news of populist politicians this weekend was not limited to Trump. In France, far-right party leader Marine Le Pen overtook center-right presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy in the polls. That is not, however, necessarily good news for Le Pen: on Sunday, Sarkozy was eliminated in his party’s primary. François Fillon and former minister Alain Juppé will face off in a second round primary next Sunday.

In still other populist party news, Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s Northern League, was questioned by police in Moscow for unfurling a banner encouraging Italians (the majority of whom were presumably not in Moscow) to vote “no” in Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s referendum to return powers from regional governments to their central counterpart. Unfurling banners without a permit is not permitted in Moscow.

Speaking of referendums: In Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos has said he will allow his new peace deal with the country’s rebel groups to be debated before Congress before it is passed into law. The first peace deal was voted down by referendum in early October. Santos has not said whether he will hold another referendum, but it seems he will be going the congressional, not popular, route.

Meanwhile, in Lima, Peru, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to reporters with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull following an apparently extraordinarily amicable meeting where the discussion went from trade to terrorism. “It’s not often where I have a meeting and I’ve gotten nothing to disagree with,” Obama said. Turnbull replied, “It’s a great moment, but a sad moment, to have our last meeting with you in your capacity as president of the United States.”

While we’re on the subject of world leaders who may be sad that Obama is leading: Angela Merkel is running for a fourth term as chancellor of Germany.

Will Trump offer the job of secretary of state to Mitt Romney, whom he said “choked like a dog” in his campaign to unseat Obama? Will Colombia eschew referendum? Will the news stop sounding like a reality TV show? Watch this space.

Photo credit: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

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