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Ripped From the Headlines: Key Players

A guide to understanding the wider context behind stories in the news.

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen is a French polititian and leader of the far right National Rally Party (formerly the National Front).  She has run for president of France several times on an anti-immigrant platform.  She was defeated by Emmanuel Macron in 2017, but continues to be a force in French politics.

Viktor Orbán

Viktor Orban has served as Prime Minister of Hungary since 2010.  During his time in office, he has enacted anti-democratic measures and been accused of cronyism and nepotism.  He has vigorously pursued an anti-immigrant agenda.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is a British politician, who was formerly mayor of London and secretary of state for foreign affairs under Theresa May, and is now a member of parliament.  Johnson was a major proponent of Brexit.

Theresa May

Theresa May is conservative British politician.  She was elected prime minister of the United Kingdom after the resignation of David Cameron in July 2016.  Although she originally supported remaining, her major concern has been negotiating a deal for the UK to leave the European Union. 

Matteo Salvini


Matteo Salvini, nicknamed Il Capitano (the Captain) is a far right Italian politician.  He is currently serving as deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.  He is loudly critical of the European Union and holds strong anti-immigration views. 

Emmanuel Macron


Emmanuel Macron became the youngest president in French history when he defeated Marine Le Pen in 2017.  Macron is a left-leaning centrist who supports the EU's "open door" immigration policies. 

Sebastian Kurz


Sebastian Kurz was elected chancellor of Austria in 2017 as a member of the conservative Austrian People's Party.  At 31, he is the youngest leader in Austrian history.  He has pursued anti-immigration policies, which he sees as a way to preserve traditional Austrian culture.  His coalition with the far right Freedom party is seen by some as legitimizing extreme ideas for the mainstream.

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel, of the center right Christian Democratic Union party, has been chancellor of Germany since 2005.  Her tenure has been marked by an uneasy relationship between Muslim Germans of Turkish decent and defenders of German cultural heritage.  Merkel has tried to compromise with both sides.  Though not an all-out proponent of open borders, she presided over a policy of “Willkommenskultur,” or culture of welcoming which allowed more than 1 million migrants into Germany since 2015.

Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan is a British politician who is the leader of the Labour Party and has been serving as mayor of London since 2016.  Khan is from a working class Pakistani family and is London's first ethnic minority mayor.  He was a strong opponent of Brexit.