More than 50 assaulted in French poll campaign

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More than 50 politicians and campaigners have been assaulted during the French election, the interior minister said Friday, as tension mounts ahead of this weekend’s run-off votes.

“This campaign is short and yet we already have 51 candidates, substitutes and activists who have been physically assaulted,” Gerard Darmanin told BFMTV.

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More than 30 people have been arrested, he said, including militants from far-right and far-left groups.

Last month, President Emmanuel Macron made the gamble of calling parliamentary elections just weeks before Paris hosts the Olympics, after the far right trounced his centrist alliance in European elections.

Tensions have risen in France after the anti-immigration and Eurosceptic National Rally (RN) party came out ahead after the first round of voting, outright winning 39 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly and predicted to gain many more.

Several assaults have been reported as centrists and a new left-wing alliance make last ditch efforts to ensure the RN does not win an absolute majority in the second round.

Four people, including three minors, were detained over attacking government spokeswoman Prisca Thevenot and her team on Wednesday while they were sticking up campaign posters in Meudon outside Paris, prosecutors said.

Thevenot, who is of Mauritian origin, was not harmed but a colleague and a supporter were wounded and taken to hospital after the attack by around 20 people.

Darmanin said 30,000 police would be deployed on Sunday to secure the vote, including 5,000 in Paris and its suburbs.

The Paris Bar Council has asked the public prosecutor’s office to open a case after a far-right website called for the “elimination” of lawyers who had signed an article against the RN.

“Violence and intimidation have no place in our society,” Prime Minister Gabriel Attal wrote in a social media post.

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