News World Massive security as French voters head to the polls after latest terror attack
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Massive security as French voters head to the polls after latest terror attack

Police stand guard near the Eiffel Tower following a shooting attack in the heart of Paris just days before the election. Photo: Getty
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As France reels from a terror attack, national security is expected to be front of mind as the country votes for its next president on Sunday.

The election will be a test of the recent rise in right-wing nationalism, with candidate Marine Le Pen promising tougher immigration and border controls to beat “Islamist terrorism” if elected.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron, who narrowly leads a tight race, said Ms Le Pen’s solutions were not as simple as she suggested and that that there was “no such thing as zero risk”.

The election comes after militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility for a shooting at the Champs-Elysees in central Paris that killed a French policeman and wounded two others on Thursday night.

French Authorities yesterday revealed the man behind the shooting was 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi.

Police sources said he served time for previous armed assaults on law enforcement officers.

The government has mobilised its security forces, including elite units, in a bid to protect the voting booths this weekend.

US President Donald Trump acknowledged there had been “another terrorist attack in Paris” on Twitter and predicted the shooting would have a “big effect” on the presidential election.

In July last year, a truck ploughed into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, killing more than 80 people, while coordinated attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris claimed about 130 lives in November 2015.

There was also the attack on satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher store in 2015.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr Trump said although he was not offering an endorsement, Ms Le Pen is the, “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France”.

There are five leading candidates in the first-round of the two-stage election followed by a runoff on May 7 between the top two candidates.

Marine Le Pen

Age: 48

Party: National Front

Politics: Far right

Representing the ‘National Front’ FN, Ms Le Pen has gained some ground on Mr Macron. In the first poll conducted after Thursday’s attack, Ms Le Pen rose by one per cent to 23 per cent of the vote, just trailing Mr Macron at 24.5 per cent. Ms Le Pen became head of the National Front party in 2011. If elected she has promised to hold a referendum on a French exit from the European Union and has vowed to make France “more French”. She is also a known critic of globalisation and Islam.

Marine Le Pen. Photo: Getty

Emmanuel Macron

Age: 39

Party: ‘En Marche!’, a new political movement

Politics centrist: Independent centrist

The former economy minister left the government to start his own political movement. The New York Times said he was one of the main drivers behind the government’s shift towards more pro-business policies such as allowing stores to open on Sunday.

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Francois Fillon

Age: 63

Party: Les Republicains (Republican Party)

Politics: Right-wing conservative

Mr Fillon is a former, scandal-ridden Prime Minister. The social conservative is pro-free-market and has promised to cut taxes, slash public spending, raise the retirement age and liberalise labour laws. Like Ms Le Pen, he has said he wants more control on immigration and Islam.

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 Jean-Luc Melenchon

 Age: 65

 Party: Le France Insoumise (Rebellious France)

 Politics: Left

The socialist politician created the new political movement Le France Insoumise after first creating the Left Party in 2008 and is also a former member of the Socialist Party. If elected he wants to renegotiate European treaties or leave the European Union, reduce working hours and increase public spending. He is also in favour of working with Russia on international issues like Syria.

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Benoit Hamon

Age: 49

Party: Parti Socialiste, Socialist Party

Politics: Left wing of Socialist Party

The former education minister left the government when his party shifted its position toward pro-business policies. Mr Hamon is appealing to young voters with proposals to phase in an universal basic income and to legalise marijuana.

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