Cities across France are bracing themselves for the possibility of riots breaking out after the first round of presidential election results are announced.
Touted as “the most unpredictable vote in decades,” results of the French election will definitely inspire violence if far-right leader Marine Le Pen and her far-left counterpart Jean-Luc-Mélenchon are the two candidates who make it through to the second and final round on May 7, according to a report issued by French intelligence services.
The intelligence report was a confidential document until it was leaked to Le Parisien newspaper, according to a report in the U.K.’s Telegraph. The “jihadist threat” was reportedly at the top of the list of potential security problems.
The report was leaked two days after an ISIS-inspired French jihadist killed one policeman and injured two others, as well as a female tourist, on the Champs Elysées avenue in Paris. The terrorist act prematurely closed down election campaigning and brought security issues back to the top of the political agenda.
Voting for the first round begins on Sunday, and 50,000 police officers and 7,000 soldiers will be deployed to protect voters around France, who will be choosing between Le Pen, Mélenchon, conservative François Fillon, and centrist Emmanuel Macron.
The leaked French intelligence report said that “spontaneous demonstrations – which might turn violent – could be held in major cities and troubled banlieues after the results are announced at around 7 p.m. UK time on Sunday.”
In reference to Le Pen and the communist-backed Mr. Mélenchon, the report also warned of “public disturbances in the case of the presence (in the second round) of parties which are said to be extremist. In this case, protests are almost certainly to be expected.”
French polls claim that one in four voters are still undecided, and the French are more worried about jobs and the economy than terrorism. However, the report claimed that “farmers, hospital staff and students” may well stage public protests against the results.
Since 2015, terror attacks in France have killed more than 230 people.
“This war against us is ceaseless and merciless,” said Le Pen, accusing President François Hollande’s Socialist government of a “cowardly” response to the threat.
During a rally on Friday evening in Paris with Pablo Iglesias, the head of Spain’s far-left Podemos party, Mélenchon reportedly called for a “Europe of rebels,” stating, “Several Europes are possible; it doesn’t have to be just their Europe.”
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