Saturday

6th Jun 2020

French campaign ends in uncertainty and fear

  • Several candidates have cancelled their last meeting in the wake of an attack on Paris’s Champs-Elysées, on Thursday evening, in which a policeman was killed. (Photo: cedric.chan)

The official campaign for Sunday’s presidential election in France will end on Friday evening (21 April) in a climate of political uncertainty and fears of terror attacks.

Several candidates cancelled their last meeting in the wake of an attack on Paris’s Champs-Elysees Thursday evening, in which a policeman was killed.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Around 9:00 pm a man opened fire on a police van parked on the French capital landmark avenue, killing one officer and injuring two others. A passer-by was also slightly injured. The attacker was killed by other policemen.

The area was sealed off for several hours with dozens of people locked up in shops, restaurants and cinema around the Champs Elysees.

The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has claimed the attack and French president Francois Hollande said that he was convinced that the attack was of “terrorist nature”.

He said that French security services would show “utmost vigilance” ahead of Sunday’s vote.

The Paris shooting came two days after two men were arrested in Marseille, in southern France, who were suspected of planning an “imminent” attack.

Several candidates had been put under special protection, with conservative candidate Francois Fillon apparently a target of the two suspected terrorists.

France has been under a state of emergency, granting special powers to the police and thousands of military on the street, since the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015.

The Champs Elysees attack took place while the 11 candidates to Sunday’s first election round were on television, in a live show where each of them talked for 15 minutes to present their programme.

The show continued despite the incident, leading to a strange situation, where TV news channels were showing the heart of Paris sealed off under a terror scare, while the main public broadcasters were still airing the political candidates talking about issues, one of which was the “events going on in Paris”.

‘The fight against terrorism must be the priority of the next president,” said Fillon.

‘To be president is to protect. I want to protect you. I am ready,” said independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, while radical left Jean-Luc Melenchon promised that “criminals will never remain unpunished and their accomplices will never be forgotten”.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen insisted that “all is not done to protect our fellow citizens” and that she would put an end to “permissiveness” and “naivety”.

Two days before the vote these four candidates remain neck to neck in opinion polls, in a race where no one is assured a spot in the second round on 7 May.

The latest polls put Macron ahead of Le Pen, Fillon and Melenchon, but only between 23-24 and 18-19 percent of the votes, respectively, which remain in the margin of error. About 25 percent of voters are still uncertain of their vote.

The race is so close that pollsters now consider the possibility that they will not be able to give the names of the two second round runners at 8:00 pm on Sunday, as is usually the case.

With many voting stations closing at 7:00 pm, the pollsters may not have enough time to analyse exit polls fully, if the margins between each candidate are too close.

“We could, for example, show three faces” instead of two, Frederic Dabi from the Ifop polling institute, told France Info.

French candidates clash on EU visions

The eleven candidates in the French presidential elections aired competing EU visions in a TV debate, with the far-right Le Pen coming under fire.

European right hopes Macron will save France

With Fillion all-but out of the election, a senior European politician said "committees" are working on what to do if Le Pen wins and takes France out of the EU.

Analysis

France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote

Tactical votes could still bring down either of the two favourites in France on Sunday in a nervous election seen as crucial for the future of the EU.

Schinas spars with MEPs over migration job title

A number of MEPs pressed Margaritis Schinas to drop the "Protecting the European Way of Life" title of his portfolio, which deals with migration. But Schinas refused, claiming it needs protecting from terrorists and populists. He failed to convince.

Poland's 'vague' nominee flops in EU hearing

Poland's nominee for agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, is likely to face a second hearing after MEPs from top political groups lambasted his "vague" performance on Tuesday.

News in Brief

  1. Poland accused of 'blatant violation' of EU court injunction
  2. EU concerned by US approach to Kosovo and Serbia
  3. City morgues cast doubt on Putin's virus data
  4. ECB increases pandemic stimulus to €1.35 trillion
  5. New EU cloud computing platform 'moonshot'
  6. City of Berlin passes anti-discrimination law
  7. Iran hits record corona cases in second wave
  8. EU job losses tell tale of pandemic damage

Parliament outmanoeuvred in EU top-post game

The European Parliament on Tuesday lost a years-long power struggle, and gave up winning more influence on European politics via the so-called Spitzenkandidat process it had championed.

Who is the new EU parliament president, David Sassoli?

The 63-year-old centre-left Italian MEP was elected president of the European Parliament, with 345 votes. A former journalist, Sassoli has experience as a vice-president of the parliament, but is little known.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration
  2. Internal EU borders open by 15 June - bar V4, Portugal, Spain
  3. CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find
  4. After Covid-19, deserted Venice struggles to survive
  5. Commission plans strategy to 'maximise' vaccine access
  6. How spies use women to steal EU secrets
  7. Hong Kong - when the Chinese Dream became a nightmare
  8. Right of reply: Letter from the Hungarian government

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us