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Masked Assailants Attack National Rally Candidate Ahead Of French Election

French National Rally party candidate Herve Breuil was attacked by masked assailants while campaigning in Saint Etienne.

In a troubling sign of the escalating political violence in Europe, Herve Breuil, a candidate for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) party, was attacked by masked, black-clad assailants while campaigning in the industrial town of Saint Etienne, near Lyon, France. Breuil, who was on the campaign trail for the upcoming snap parliamentary election, was hospitalised due to the assault but is expected to be released soon, according to police and local authority spokespeople.

The attack on Breuil mirrors a disturbing trend of increasing violence against political figures across France; the majority of them mayors and local councillors. In the first nine months of 2023, there were 2,387 recorded physical and verbal assaults on politicians, a figure that already surpasses the 2,265 incidents reported for the entirety of 2022. This marks a steady rise from the previous year, reflecting a growing tension in the political climate.

Marine Le Pen condemned the attack on her party’s candidate, attributing it to “far-left extremists.” She expressed her outrage on social media platform X, stating, “An election campaign in a democracy cannot be allowed to have such acts of extreme violence carried out by a far left which is prepared to do anything to sow chaos.”

The police have initiated an investigation into the assault. This incident comes amid heightened political tension in France, worsened by divisive rhetoric and the influence of social media. The political atmosphere in France, much like in Germany, has become increasingly polarised, with frequent barbs traded between political factions.

President Emmanuel Macron called for the snap election following a significant defeat of his party by the RN in the recent European elections. Polls indicate that the RN is leading against the left-wing New Popular Front coalition as the country prepares for the two-round voting process on June 30 and July 7.

Melissa Enoch

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