France shocked by 50 violent attacks on election candidates and activists

More than 30 arrests have been made over attacks during campaign season

A view of a Police Nationale ‘do not cross’ line
There are fears of further violence after this Sunday’s vote

More than 50 cases of violence against election candidates and campaigners have been recorded since the start of the French legislative campaigns.

The spike in violence has already led to over 30 arrests – with more expected in the coming days – for both incidents of verbal and physical abuse. 

Attacks have come from “extremely varied profiles” and groups across the political spectrum, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told BFMTV, not singling out a particular political party or viewpoint.

“[The attackers] are people who are either spontaneously angry, which shows that France is on edge, or political activists or ultra-left or ultra-right members of other political groups,” he added.

A high-profile case occurred earlier in the week, when government spokesperson Prisca Thevenot was ambushed by youngsters on scooters whilst putting up campaign posters in Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine). 

Whilst Miss Thevenot was unharmed, a fellow activist was seriously injured and rushed to hospital. 

At the beginning of the election campaign, a Rassemblement National candidate was hospitalised after being attacked in Saint-Étienne (Loire). 

Campaigners for the left-wing Nouveau Front Populaire have also been attacked, Mr Darmanin said. 

30,000 police officers will be deployed on Sunday night after the election in an attempt to quell any unrest due to the results. 

Read more: 30,000 French police deployed Sunday amid fears of election result riots

The minister predicted earlier in the campaign season that ‘civil unrest’ could hit France in autumn, when policies from the newly-elected chamber may begin to be passed, depending on the political make-up of the Assemblée nationale following this Sunday’s vote.