France Boosts Security for President Candidates on Terror Threat

  • Macron, Le Pen tied in polls ahead of April 23 election
  • Candidates not altering campaigns because of security threat

Security details protecting France’s presidential candidates were bolstered after intelligence services were said to have picked up on an imminent threat.

The Journal du Dimanche newspaper was first to report on the measures, which were confirmed to Bloomberg by the campaign teams for Marine Le Pen, from the National Front, and centrist Emmanuel Macron. A Le Pen aide described the threat as very "precise."

“No threat is excluded,” Interior Minister Matthias Fekl told Journal du Dimanche when asked to comment on the intelligence reports. “Our objective is to allow for universal suffrage to be used freely and serenely.”

France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when gunmen killed 130 people in attacks on a concert hall and other sites in Paris. The election will be the first since 1965 -- when the current system was put in place -- that will be held under a state of emergency.

France Presidential Election Voting Intention: Summary (Table)

With just eight days to go, opinion polls show that any of the top four candidates could win, with the top two facing off in a run-off. Le Pen and Macron lead voting intentions with 22 percent, according to an Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll for Le Monde on Friday. Republican Francois Fillon, with 19 percent, and far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, with 20 percent, are within the margin of error of the lead.

Candidates used their final weekend of campaigning to play to their bases.

  • Le Pen focused her attacks on Macron and warned about the risk posed by Islamists, uncontrolled immigration and terrorism.
  • Fillon highlighted his Christian roots and said that he would take a member of the Sens Commun Catholic movement in his government if he was elected.
  • Melenchon reassured his voters that he wasn’t an “extreme-left” candidate. Speaking with Le Parisien newspaper, he said his presidency has “never been so close.”

None of the candidates have altered their schedules for the final days because of the security alert. Macron is slated to speak at a food market on Monday and then at a rally in Paris. Fillon heads to the coastal town of Nice, while Le Pen attends rallies in Paris and Marseille. Campaigning ends on April 21, in accordance with French electoral law.

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