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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Thai coup protests, BP’s Rosneft deal, EU embraces Euroskeptics, Facebook as a religion

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

“The chocolate king” becomes Ukraine’s new president. Exit polls showed candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko taking 55% of the vote in Ukraine’s general election, removing the need for a run-off. Violence by pro-Russian separatists prevented many in eastern Ukraine from voting.

Egyptians head to the polls. Former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will face just one opponent, the leftist veteran dissident Hamdeen Sabbahi. Sisi has vowed to crack down further on the Muslim Brotherhood—already a banned organization in Egypt—after ousting its leader Mohamed Morsi last year.

The EU discusses Russian gas. Europe energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger  is due to meet his Russian counterpart and the head of Gazprom in Berlin in an attempt to to solve a dispute over gas prices between Russia and Ukraine.

India’s new prime minister is inaugurated. Narendra Modi will be sworn in following his Bharatiya Janata Party’s landslide election win. Pakistan confirmed its prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, will attend the ceremony—an historic first for the two countries.

Pfizer’s bid for AstraZeneca is set to fizzle out. Pfizer is expected to walk away when it reaches the regulatory deadline to “put up or shut up” at 5pm UK time. The Anglo-Swiss drug company rejected four successive takeover bids from its US counterpart, most recently a £70 billion, £55 per share informal offer.

Over the weekend

Euroskeptics took over the EU. European voters embraced the extremes on both the right and the left, voting in a record number of MEPs opposed to the EU project. Marine Le Pen’s National Front won the French vote, while the UK Independence Party is expected to have triumphed in Britain.

BP signed on Russia’s dotted line. The UK-based energy firm agreed to look for shale oil in Russia with state-owned Rosneft, in which it owns a 19.7% stake. The deal was agreed at the St Petersburg International Economic forum, which several major companies and corporate leaders boycotted due to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Ford warned Europe of overcapacity. CEO Alan Mulally said that European carmakers still need to better match their production to demand (paywall) and that production should be scaled back. European car sales fell by 4 million between 2007 and 2013.

Thailand’s coup got the royal seal of approval. King Bhumibol Adulyadej will endorse last week’s military takeover, even as anti-coup protests broke out in Bangkok and other major cities. Army commander Prayuth Chan-Ocha will name an interim prime minister and legislative council aimed at keeping Thailand’s economy on track.

Sino-American spy wars escalated… China told state-run companies to stop using US-based consulting firms such as McKinsey, because they could be spies for the US government (paywall).

…And so did Sino-Japanese aerial maneuvers. A Chinese fighter jet came within 30 meters of a Japanese surveillance aircraft near disputed island territory, with each country blaming the other. China and Russia are carrying out joint naval exercises in the East China Sea.

India slammed the brakes on an historic car. Hindustan Motors suspended operations at its plant near Kolkata due to a shortage of funds, lack of demand, and low productivity. The Ambassador, the first car to be made in India and once the only vehicle driven by government officials, has been in production since 1957.

The Pope flew east for peace. Pope Francis called the crisis in the Middle East “increasingly unacceptable” during a visit to the region, and invited Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli president Shimon Peres to join him in Rome to pray for peace.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on what Ukraine’s election means. “The main message of today’s presidential election in Ukraine is that war with Russia is off the table—at least for now. Russia and Ukrainian separatists tried hard to prevent the vote—and succeeded in swaths of eastern Ukraine—but now that the election has gone ahead, they will turn to other tactics to press their views.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China’s global railway dream isn’t going to happen. Corruption, safety failing, and politics will prevent Beijing from being a true global connector.

The world needs a women’s revolution. We are living in a neopatriarchy that ”tolerates girls being astronauts or bankers, but resists genuine reform.”

Thomas Piketty’s ground-breaking book on inequality got it wrong. The data aren’t reliable, says the FT’s Chris Giles. Giles doesn’t understand the data, says economist Mike Konzcal.

Middle East democracy does not lead to liberalism. In Egypt, for example, the majority supports sharia law (paywall).

Parents should read the Santa Barbara murderer’s memoir. Elliot Rodger grew up lonely and insecure, just like millions of other kids.

Surprising discoveries

Early Harvard grads “rolled their own” degrees. The university didn’t give out formal diplomas until 1817.

The Defcon conference may be closed to Chinese hackers. The US may use visa restrictions to prevent Chinese nationals from attending.

Exceeding expectations makes no impression on people. They care only if you let them down.

A start-up religion is deifying Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is the main god, and Sheryl Sandberg is his Minerva.

Today’s generation is the best-behaved group of teens ever. Drug use, teen pregnancies and unprotected sex are all on the decline.

“LOL” is already 25 years old. ”Laughing out loud,” that is; “lots of love” is even older.

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