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ELECTION

Did France have a secret crisis plan in case Le Pen won the election?

According to a report in France the government had an emergency plan named "Protect the Republic" that it was ready to put into place if the far right's Marine Le Pen had won the presidential election.

Did France have a secret crisis plan in case Le Pen won the election?
Photo: AFP

Flood the streets with police to quell the violence, bring back parliament, and force the Prime Minister and government to remain in place until the parliamentary elections in June.

These are essentially the measures that formed the basis of an emergency plan that the French government would put in place in the case that Marine Le Pen won the second round of the election against Emmanuel Macron on May 7th.

At least that’s according to France’s L’Obs magazine who have cited senior sources close to the government and state organisations.

The plan does not seem too outlandish given the fact that French intelligence services had already warned authorities of the likelihood of widespread rioting if Marine Le Pen won the election.

Her qualification for the second round along with that of Macron’s had already prompted violent scenes in some French cities, notably on May Day when petrol bombs were thrown at police (see photo above).

But L’Obs claims the government had a three step plan to ensure the country did not lurch into a nationwide crisis if the far right leader had won. Although it appears it was more an informal plan discussed at high level rather than something written down and set in stone.

“It was an action plan with several layers. The philosophy, and the imperative priority, was to maintain civil peace while fully respecting our constitutional rules,” one government source told L’Obs.

The first priority was to preserve peace on the streets with senior authorities expecting protests and violence lead by extremist groups to occur almost immediately after her win.

The sitting Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve who has just been replaced by Edouard Philippe, would have been required to stay on until the legislative elections if Le Pen had won to ensure some kind of stability.

His government would have also been asked to stay on forcing Le Pen to accept “cohabitation”  the system whereby a French president has to accept a government and prime minister from a different party.

Parliament would have been recalled for the Wednesday after the second round on Sunday May 7th to discuss the “national crisis and outbreaks of violence” provoked by Le Pen’s win, the report claims.

“The country would have come to a halt and the government would have just one priority, assuring the security of the state,” a source told L’Obs.

In the end Emmanuel Macron won the second round easily although there was some outbreaks of violence involving anti-capitalist and anarchist groups in certain cities around France including Paris.

A protest was also organised by leftist trade unions the day after Macron’s win and more are likely as if he follows through on promises to reform the labour market.

IN PICS: Just one day after Emmanuel Macron's election and Paris holds its first protest

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ELECTION

Le Pen narrowly tops European election polls in France in blow for Macron

The far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen finished top in European elections in France on Sunday, dealing a blow to pro-European President Emmanuel Macron.

Le Pen narrowly tops European election polls in France in blow for Macron
Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella. Photo: AFP

Results released on Monday morning by the Ministry of the Interior, which have yet to be formally verified and declared by the National Voting Commission, showed that the far right Rassemblement National (RN) party topped the polls with 23.3 percent of the vote, beating French president Emmanuel Macron's La Republique En Marche.

They were closely followed by Macron's party, which polled 22.4 percent.

Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron at a polling station in Le Touquet earlier on Sunday. Photo: AFP

The allocation of seats in the European Parliament has been complicated for France by the UK's delayed departure from the EU.

The Parliament had already decided that after Brexit, some of the seats that had been occupied by British MEPs would be reallocated to other countries, with France set to gain an extra five seats

However, last minute delays to Brexit meant that the UK had to take part in the elections, with the result that France will not gain its extra seats until Britain leaves the EU.

On last night's polling results, the RN will get 22 seats in the European parliament immediately, and an extra seat once Britain leaves.

Macron's LREM will get 21 seats now and 23 after the UK leaves.

The green party lead by Yannick Jadot was placed third with 13.4 percent of the vote, gaining 12 seats now and 13 after Brexit. 

The two parties that between them had dominated French politics for decades until the rise of Macron both polled in single figures. Nicolas Sarkozy's old party Les Republicains polled 8.4 percent, while the Socialist party of Francois Hollande was on 6.31 percent, winning them eight and six seats respectively.

Meanwhile the 'yellow vest' candidates scored just 0.54 percent of the vote, below the Animalist party which polled 2.17 percent.

Nathalie Loiseau with LREM party workers. Photo: AFP

Although a total of 34 parties fielded candidates in the European elections in France, the election had largely been framed as a contest between Macron and Le Pen.

Macron's La Republique En Marche party, its list headed by former Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau, was contesting its first European elections.

Marine Le Pen, on the other hand, was hoping to replicate her 2014 European election victory with her Rassemblement National party, its list headed by a political novice, the 23-year-old Jordan Bardella. Bardella called the results a “failure” for the LREM ruling party and sought to portray Macron's defeat as a rejection by voters of his pro-business agenda in France and pro-EU vision.

Macron had made no secret of the significance he attached to the results, telling regional French newspapers last week that the EU elections were the most important for four decades as the union faced an “existential threat”.

Jordan Bardella, head of the RN list. Photo: AFP

He has jumped into the campaign himself in recent weeks, appearing alone on an election poster in a move that analysts saw as exposing him personally if LREM underperformed.

The score of the National Rally is slightly below the level of 2014 when it won 24.9 percent, again finishing top.

Le Pen had placed herself towards the bottom of the RN list, so she will be returning to the European Parliament, where she served as an MEP from 2004 to 2017.

Turnout at the polls in France was the highest in recent years, with 50.12 percent of people voting, significantly up from 35.07 percent in 2014.

Veteran France reporter John Lichfield said: “After six months of 'yellow vest' rebellion, that Macron list has 22 percent is respectable. Much better than President Hollande did in 2014 (14.5 percent).

“But he made the election all about himself and lost. His hopes of emerging as de facto EU leader or enacting more French reforms are damaged.”

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