France to deploy 30,000 police after election runoff amid fears of violence

  05 July 2024    Read: 651
France to deploy 30,000 police after election runoff amid fears of violence

About 30,000 police will be deployed across France on Sunday night amid fears of violence after the final results of a snap election in which the far right hopes to gain a majority in parliament, according to Guardian.

Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, said 5,000 police would be on duty in Paris and its surrounding areas to “ensure that the radical right and radical left do not take advantage of the situation to cause mayhem”.

Four people, including one under 18, were arrested after the government spokesperson, Prisca Thevenot, said she and her team had been attacked on Wednesday evening while putting up campaign posters in Meudon, outside Paris.

Her deputy and a party activist were injured after the team told a group of about 10 youths to stop defacing campaign posters. “We said to them, without being aggressive, that [defacing posters] was not allowed,” Thevenot told Le Parisien. She said police arrived less than five minutes after the attack.

“Violence is never the answer. I’ll continue my on-the-ground campaigning,” Thevenot wrote on X.

A few hours before being targeted, she had shared her anxiety as a person of colour in a “complicated” political climate with French broadcaster TF1.

“I don’t say this only as spokesperson of the government, but more as the daughter of immigrants and mother of mixed-race children,” Thevenot said, citing repeated and intensified racist attacks. “They no longer do it anonymously, but with uncovered faces and even with a certain pride.”

A candidate for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party (RN) in Savoie, Marie Dauchy, also said she had been attacked, by a shopkeeper at a market on Wednesday.

Nicolas Conquer, a candidate for The Republicans, said on social media that he had been assaulted while distributing election flyers in the city of Cherbourg on Tuesday.

“Let’s reject the climate of violence and hatred that is taking hold,” prime minister Gabriel Attal wrote on Thursday on X, adding that violence and intimidation had “no place in our democracy.”

Sunday’s decisive second round is expected to result in the far-right, anti-immigration RN becoming the biggest party in parliament, whether or not it reaches the 289 seats needed for an absolute majority to form the next government.

Both the centrist grouping of the president, Emmanuel Macron, and a broadleftwing coalition, have withdrawn more than 200 candidates from the final runoff in a joint effort to limit the far right’s seats. The exact number of seats the far right RN and its allies could win in the 577-seat national assembly is hard to predict, but Harris Interactive polling for Challenges magazine on Wednesday suggested they could take up to 220.

Le Pen on Thursday claimed the party could reach an absolute majority if voter turnout was high.

“I think there is still the capacity to have an absolute majority with the electorate turning out in a final effort to get what they want,” she told BFM TV. “I say turn out to vote, as it’s a really important moment to get a change in politics in all the areas that are making you suffer right now.”

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