The first round of voting took place yesterday (Sunday 23 April) in France, with the final vote set to take place on 7 May. Less than 72 hours before the vote, Paris experienced an act of terrorism, which was speedily claimed by IS (Isis/ISIL) and which political commentators believe could influence the final election results.
A plan to prevent terrorism has been a key campaign point for candidates, and as the Washington Post has reported, “A majority of French said in polls that they wanted harsher sentences for terrorists and more powers for security services to prevent attacks.” This has been widely agreed to be the result of acts of terrorism in France and Europe, including the 2015 Paris attacks and 2016 Bastille Day attack in Nice.
The Telegraph predicted on 21 April that the Champs Élysées attack “could swing the French presidential election.”
A debate between all 11 candidates was in progress on Friday when the latest shooting took place, and all candidates pledged to protect the nation from further attacks.
It is believed that Friday’s attack was intended to “influence the tone of the debate” and it resulted in two candidates cancelling visits to Paris that day.
The gunman has now been identified as a 39-year-old man who had previously served 12 years in prison for attacks on police. He had also been detained in February. The gunman killed one policeman and injured two, before being shot and killed.
Marine Le Pen said she has had “Enough of laxism.” She goes forward to the second round of voting against Emmanuel Macron, who spoke of additional security and making people feel safer, but with different tactics.
Sources who support Le Pen believe that stricter legislation and harsher punishment for terrorism will make France safer, but others counter that these “extreme measures” could actually make the situation worse.
Macron’s stance focuses on decreasing the threat of IS through international co-operation and preventative measures, rather than increasing police powers.
What does this mean for the future?
Changes in legislation will depend on the outcome of the final vote, but there’s no doubt that the prevention of terrorism will be a primary objective in France, and there will most likely be some increased security in the long term.
For now, media warn that IS could attempt further attacks in an attempt to influence the 7 May outcome, and there will be heightened security throughout the country, and particularly in Paris.
We sincerely hope that there will not be any further attacks. If you are travelling in France over the next few weeks, follow the news closely and make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance cover that includes terrorism. You should also follow any instructions from local authorities.
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