France to tighten security on election day
France has announced plans to further beef up security measures to ensure that no terrorist activities occur on the day of its presidential election later this month.
“No threat is ruled out… In terms of security, over 50,000 police personnel will be enlisted,” French Interior Minister Matthias Fekl told the Le Journal du Dimanche weekly.
The minister added that military troopers would also be present in cities on the day of the vote, which is April 23. A run-off is scheduled for May 7 in anticipation of an inconclusive first round.
France has been in a state of emergency since a series of terrorist attacks hit Paris in November 2015, leaving a total of 130 people dead.
Meanwhile, candidates in the election have been making efforts to win the votes of undecided French citizens. Opinion polls show record numbers of voters — one in three — are still undecided.
The race for the presidency features Francois Fillon, Emmanuael Macron, Benoit Hamon, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and Marine Le Pen. Incumbent Francois Hollande is not re-running for office.
Le Pen has caused the most controversy with her extremist, far-right policies.
On Monday, protesters demonstrated in the multi-ethnic Paris suburb of Aubervilliers against a rally planned by Le Pen’s supporters in a nearby concert hall.
“No fascists in our neighborhoods,” they shouted.
Several candidates, including Le Pen, have adopted eurosceptic tendencies in their campaigns. So has self-styled Melenchon.
A leftist firebrand, Melenchon drew tens of thousands of supporters chanting “Resistance” at a rally in the southwestern city of Toulouse on Sunday. The 65-year-old delivered an ode to freedom and international solidarity interspersed with swipes at his rivals, particularly conservative Fillon, who is a former prime minister.
Le Pen from the National Front is leading the polls. She proposes France’s exit from the European Union and voices concerns about security and immigration.
She is followed closely by Macron, whose newly-founded En Marche (Forward) Party is described by its president as neither “the right nor the left.”
Macron, who had several posts in Hollande’s government, pursues the pro-European policies of outgoing President Hollande.