Political Violence in France Raises Concerns Ahead of Election Outcome

France has been witnessing a surge in violent attacks against political candidates and activists in the lead-up to the final round of parliamentary elections. This unsettling trend has raised concerns about the security of campaigners and the impact it may have on the election results.

The recent incident involving government spokeswoman Prisca Thevenot and her colleagues being assaulted by a gang of youths while putting up election posters in Meudon has sent shockwaves across the country. The attack, which resulted in injuries to Thevenot’s deputy Virginie Lanlo and a party activist, has been condemned by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal as an act of “intolerable cowardice”.

The motive behind the attack remains unclear, but the incident underscores the tense political climate in France, with the far-right National Rally (RN) emerging as a prominent contender in the election. The escalating violence has prompted Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to deploy 30,000 police officers to maintain order during the election.

The rise in attacks is not limited to pro-government campaigners, as RN candidates have also been targeted. Marie Dauchy, a candidate in southeastern France, described being “violently assaulted” while campaigning at a market, and Nicolas Conquer, a conservative candidate allied with RN, reported being pelted with eggs along with a female colleague.

The outcome of the election remains uncertain, with RN aiming to secure an absolute majority in the National Assembly. However, political opponents have vowed to thwart the far-right party from seizing power, leading to strategic withdrawals by third-place candidates to bolster rival candidates’ chances of winning.

Despite the latest polls indicating that RN may fall short of the seats needed to form a government, the party’s policies, including prioritizing French citizens for jobs and housing over immigrants and restricting dual citizens from certain roles, have sparked concerns among marginalized communities.

As the election approaches, the divisive political landscape has sparked fears and tensions among voters, with national figures like football captain Kylian Mbappé urging citizens to make an informed choice to prevent undesirable outcomes. The wave of political violence in France serves as a stark reminder of the challenges facing the democratic process and the need to combat extremism and intolerance.