Terror raid rattles French race 

Terror raid rattles French race 

Security concerns again shook France’s presidential race as the authorities announced arrests ahead of an alleged planned attack amid an ongoing state of emergency.

Front National candidate Marine Le Pen hardened her tone on foreigners and border controls after the arrests.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron is still well-placed ahead of Sunday’s first round for the May 7 runoff with more than 50,000 police and soldiers to be deployed to safeguard the ballot. Home affairs minister Matthias Fekl said police prevented an imminent “terror attack”, arresting two French men in Marseille.

Both men were suspected Islamic radicals, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins. Police seized firearms and explosives from the apartment the men were leaving when they were seized, Molins added.

Le Pen said there was “a devastating multiplication of attacks and threats of attacks” in France, blaming “Islamic fundamentalism” that “has expanded exponentially”.

“It’s time to put back France in order,” she said.

“We cannot fight the terrorism that weighs on our country without controlling our borders,” Le Pen has said, although those arrested were French citizens.

Marxist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon (pictured) in 2012 won 11 per cent of the vote but this time he is less angry and more humorous.

Born in Tangiers in 1951 of Spanish-Italian extraction, Mélenchon had a career in teaching and journalism before joining socialist politics in the late 1970s.

He served briefly as a junior education minister under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. In 2002 he co-founded a movement, Nouveau Monde (New World), attacking what he saw as the Socialist Party’s move to the right.

After later setting up the Parti de Gauche (Left Party), he was elected as a member of the European Parliament in 2009 in an alliance with the Communist Party.

This time his movement is called La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), avoiding any traditional affiliation.

Mélenchon wants the presidential system of the Fifth Republic to be replaced by a more directly answerable parliamentary system.

He wants a €100-billion state investment plan, a top tax rate of 90 per cent, retirement at 60, a 32-hour working week, 200,000 new state jobs and a ban on firing workers when companies are in profit.

The veteran firebrand wants to renegotiate the EU treaties so that the European Central Bank answers to political, rather than just monetary, interests and an end to so-called “austerity” rules that impinge on national deficits.

He would take France out of Nato and the IMF and bring France (via its territory of Guyane on the north coast of South America) into the Latin American union Alba, meaning the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. It was established by Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

He has no red flags flying at his rallies now and the Internationale is not sung anymore but his policies have changed little.

Picture credit: Flickr  


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