On Friday, national security was shifted to the top of the French political agenda after a suspected Islamic militant killed a policeman just two days before the country’s presidential elections. On Sunday, the first round of the two-stage election will commence. Marine Le Pen, the far-right nationalist candidate said that if she was elected, she would impose tougher border and immigration controls for preventing terrorist attacks. Narrowly leading a tight race with Le Pen, centrist Emmanuel Macron, said that the suggestions given by Le Pen were not as simple because there was no way to ensure zero risk.
He also added that anyone who claimed it could be achieved was just being irresponsible. He is a former economy minister in the government, which has been repeatedly criticized for its security record by Marine Le Pen. There are four candidates in the French presidential elections and the race is too close to make a call about the winner. After voting is done on Sunday, the top two candidates that will emerge will participate in a runoff on May 7th. After the attack on Thursday, a new poll was conducted, and the results showed that Le Pen had succeeded in gaining some ground on Macron.
The poll still showed him as coming out on top in the first round with 24.5%, but this was a half percentage point less than before whereas Le Pen’s chances rose by one to reach 23%. Former prime minister conservative Francois Fillon and far left’s Jean Luc Melenchon also saw their support declining by half a percentage point. Essentially, a new source of unpredictability was added to the election after the attack occurred at the Champs-Elysees Boulevard in the very heart of the capital city. The French economy is worth 2.2 trillion euros and competes with Britain for taking the spot of fifth largest in the world.
Speaking to the Associated Press on Friday, US President Donald Trump said that the attack would probably benefit Le Pen because she has the strongest stand regarding the happenings in the country and on the border. In an interview, Trump told the AP that he wasn’t endorsing Le Pen explicitly, but he just believed that the voting on Sunday would be affected by the attack. Moreover, the results of the election could also have an impact on France’s position in the world and in the European Union, which is still reeling from Britain’s decision to exit. Macron is pro-EU, Le Pen is not a fan and wants to quit its single currency and hold a referendum similar to the one held in Britain for leaving the bloc.
There is a large number of people in France who are still undecided on who to vote (approximately 31%) and all candidates want to woo them. The attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State, was also used by Fillon in his campaigning as he said that the next president should make their priority to get rid of these Islamist militants completely for the safety of the country.