30,000 police to be deployed across France in wake of snap election

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Source; independent uk

It comes as several French election candidates have reported being attacked on the campaign trail.

Some 30,000 police will be deployed across France late on Sunday following the high-stakes second round of a parliamentary election, a minister said, as three candidates reported having been attacked on the campaign trail.

Sunday’s second round will determine whether Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party (RN) secures a parliamentary majority for the first time and forms the next government in France, the eurozone’s second-largest economy.

The campaign has been marred by political tensions but also by growing violence.

France’s interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, said he would be “very careful” about security on Sunday evening, when the election results will be announced.

Some 5,000 of the 30,000 police to be deployed that evening will be located in Paris and its surroundings, and they will “ensure that the radical right and radical left do not take advantage of the situation to cause mayhem”, he told France 2 TV.

Mr Darmanin said four people had been arrested over an incident that occurred on Wednesday evening, when government spokesperson Prisca Thevenot and her team were attacked while they were out putting up campaign posters.

While Ms Thevenot herself was not harmed, her deputy and a party activist were injured by an unidentified group of about 10 youths who were defacing campaign posters, Ms Thevenot told the newspaper Le Parisien.

A few hours before being targeted, Ms Thevenot 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,” she said, citing repeated and intensified racially motivated attacks.

“The [attackers] no longer do it anonymously, but with uncovered faces and even with a certain pride.”

An RN candidate in Savoie, Marie Dauchy, also said she had been attacked by a shopkeeper at a market on Wednesday.

“It’s shameful,” Ms Le Pen said in a brief TV interview. “We have a number of candidates that have had to stop their campaign. This climate is deplorable.”

Separately, the 77-year-old deputy mayor of a small town near Grenoble, in southeastern France, was punched in the face on Thursday morning when putting up a poster for Olivier Veran, a former spokesperson for the president Emmanuel Macron.

Mr Veran denounced it as a “completely unprecedented context of violence in this campaign”.

“Let’s reject the climate of violence and hatred that is taking hold,” prime minister Gabriel Attal said on X/Twitter.

Meanwhile, a poll on Wednesday suggested that efforts by mainstream parties to block the far right from achieving an absolute majority may prove effective.

The Harris Interactive poll for Challenges magazine showed that the anti-immigration, eurosceptic RN and its allies would get just 190 to 220 seats in the 577-strong assembly, while the centre-right Republicans (LR) would win 30 to 50 seats. This could rule out the possibility of a far-right minority government supported by part of the LR parliamentary group.

The poll was published after more than 200 candidates across the political spectrum withdrew their candidacies to clear the path for whoever was best placed to defeat the RN candidate in their district, in a movement known as the “republican front”.

However, much uncertainty remains, including whether voters will go along with these efforts to block the RN.

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