After deadly attack, France looks toward weekend presidential vote
PARIS — France began picking itself up Friday from another deadly shooting claimed by the Islamic State group, with President Francois Hollande convening the government’s security council and his would-be successors in the presidential election campaign treading carefully before voting this weekend.
Investigators found a pump-action shotgun and knives in the car of the gunman who targeted police on the Champs-Elysees, and were working to determine whether he had accomplices. The prime minister said the government has reviewed its already-extensive election security measures and says it is “fully mobilized” for Sunday’s vote.
One of the key questions was whether, and how, the attack that killed one police officer and wounded three other people might impact voting intentions. The risk for the main candidates was that misjudging the public mood, making an ill-perceived gesture or comment, could damage their chances. With polling just two days away, and campaigning banned from Friday at midnight, they would have no time to recover before polls open on Sunday. Candidates on Friday canceled or rescheduled final campaign events.
“Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country,” Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said, appealing for national unity and for people “not to succumb to fear.”
“The whole of Europe is targeted because it represents the values and ideals of peace,” he said.
More than 50,000 police and gendarmes are mobilized to protect Sunday’s first-round vote in the two-stage election, with an additional 7,000 soldiers also on patrol. He added that the intelligence services are working “in the shadows” and elite intervention police forces are also on alert./
People walk on the Champs Elysees Boulevard in Paris, Friday.