France is in shock after a gunman, apparently inspired by Isil, shot policeman Xavier Jugele dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Questions will be raised about what the authorities could have done to stop the Islamic extremist, who was killed soon after the incident, as it emerged that he had been detained in February by police after “informants” had indicated that he was “seeking to obtain weapons to kill policemen”, but had been let go due to a lack of evidence.
The timing of the attack, coming days before France votes in the first round of its presidential election, means that it will have “ a big effect” (as Donald Trump tweeted) on the process.The candidates have varied in their responses. Emmanuel Macron, the centrist frontrunner whom has been potrayed by rivals as too inexperienced to protect France, warned against any attempts to use the attack for political gain. Francois Fillon, the veteran former prime minister, called for campaigning to be suspended.
Marine Le Pen took the hardest line in response, calling for France to “immediately” take back control of its own borders from the European Union and deport all foreigners on a terror watchlist. The Front National leader will be the most watched this Sunday, as security concerns might propel her to the top of the poll, which would give her some momentum for the final round. The implications of her winning the process are enormous, as President Le Pen’s strong anti-EU drive would place the bloc’s future in peril. So the election may determine the survival of the European Union itself.
No fewer than 238 people have been killed in France in terrorist incidents since 2015. The weakness of the country’s mainstream politicians on security has opened up the possibility of the far Right’s Marine Le Pen winning the presidency, Leo McKinstry argues. “European politicians, EU leaders and liberal sophisticates might be appalled by such an outcome. But they helped to achieve it with their destructive policies.”
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