The Presidential elections in continental France is slated for Sunday, while the run-off is expected to take place on May 7. Four most prominent candidates are far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, head of left-wing political movement La France Insoumise (Unsubmissive France) Jean-Luc Melenchon, The Republicans’ party nominee Francois Fillon and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron. Benoit Hamon, the candidate from the ruling Socialist Party, alongside six other presidential hopefuls, are not expected to make it through the first round of election due to the low level of support among the French people.
Terrorist violence casts a shadow over the elections, after the shooting of a policeman on the Champs Élysees. The attack, claimed by the Islamic State, threw open radically opposing visions and discussions among the Presidential candidates. Frontrunner Emmanuel Macron was the first to comment on the matter, urging the French nation not to give in to fear when they go to the polls and promised to protect them if he is elected.
“The president’s main job … is to protect the French. I am ready for it … This Sunday you will be choosing your future. Don’t give in to fear, divisions and intimidation,” Macron said. Macron said that it would unfortunately “be a part of the everyday life of the French people in the near future.” At the same time, the candidate expressed his readiness to tackle terrorism in France and abroad, including in Syria. When voicing her opinion on the attack, Le Pen said that the French authorities had not done enough to protect the country’s citizens. “Our law enforcement agencies do not wait for our compassion. They need means for protection, for struggle with the huge threat posed by the Islamic terrorism. I do not want to get accustomed to this threat. I do not want to tell our young people that they would live in conditions of daily and long term danger. We should implement a plan against the Islamic terrorism,” Le Pen said.
Fillon said that counterterrorism would be the issue of high priority for the country’s next president and called for a broad international coalition against terrorism. “A broad international coalition is needed to destroy all totalitarian movements that stand at the origins of violence,” Fillon said, referring to such terrorist groups as Daesh, Boko Haram and Taliban, outlawed in many countries, including Russia.
The attack on police officers in Paris may boost the chances of Fillon and Le Pen in the election as they advocate tougher security and anti-terrorism cooperation, Nicolas Dhuicq told Sputnik News. Campaigning for the first round ended at midnight on Friday and polls suggest any two of four leading candidates could go through to the runoff on May 7. French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the government had reviewed its extensive election security measures and was fully mobilised in the wake of the attack.
Cazeneuve said more than 50,000 police and gendarmes and 7,000 soldiers would be on duty for Sunday’s first-round vote in the two-stage election, and nothing could be allowed to “hamper this democratic moment”.