Fifty violent attacks shock France ahead of crunch vote

  05 July 2024    Read: 800
Fifty violent attacks shock France ahead of crunch vote

More than 50 candidates and activists in France have come under physical attack in the run-up to Sunday's tense final round of parliamentary elections, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has said.

He revealed the figure after government spokeswoman Prisca Thevenot, her deputy Virginie Lanlo and a party activist were brutally assaulted as they put up election posters in Meudon, south-west of Paris.

The motive for the attack is not clear, but Ms Thevenot returned to Meudon on Thursday with Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who condemned what he called "attacks of intolerable cowardice".

The spate of assaults across France reflects the febrile mood on the final day of campaigning in an election that the far-right National Rally (RN) is poised to win.
Although RN is well ahead in the polls, 217 candidates have dropped out from local run-off races so another candidate has a better chance of stopping them winning an outright majority in the National Assembly.

Mr Darmanin told news channel BFMTV the attacks were taking place in a climate in which France was "on edge" and more than 30 people had been arrested.

He said the attackers were either people who had "spontaneously become angry" or they were the "ultra-left, ultra-right or other political groups".

Images filmed from a block of flats showed the youths swarming around the candidate, her deputy Virginie Lanlo and a party activist for President Emmanuel Macron's Ensemble alliance.

Ms Thevenot told Le Parisien website that when she and her colleagues objected to the youths defacing party posters "they immediately attacked one of my activists, injuring Virginie". Ms Lanlo suffered an arm injury, while the activist was punched and hit with a scooter, ending up with a broken jaw. The car windscreen was also smashed by the scooter.

Three teenagers and a man aged 20 were arrested by police and the incident was quickly condemned across the political spectrum.

Mr Attal called on people to "reject the climate of violence and hatred that's taking hold", while RN leader Jordan Bardella said one of his "big commitments as prime minister" would be to "combat record insecurity and repeat offending".

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