France was ready to deploy a secret crisis plan to “protect the republic” if far-right politician Marine Le Pen had won the election, a French magazine has reported, citing sources. The plan included flooding the streets with police to maintain order.
Citing three senior sources close to the French government and state organizations, France’s L’Obs magazine has revealed that a plan was devised because the country was fearing “extreme violence” and chaos if Le Pen won the election against Emmanuel Macron.
The first priority, the magazine said, was to preserve order on the streets, as authorities expected major violent protests, The Local reported, citing the L’Obs article.
In addition, then-Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who has now been replaced by Edouard Philippe, would have been required to remain in his post until the parliamentary elections in June, in order to maintain some measure of stability.
Cazeneuve’s government would have also been asked to stay on. This would have forced Le Pen to accept a “cohabitation” system, in which a French president has to accept a government and prime minister from a different party.
In addition, the French parliament would have been recalled for an emergency session on the Wednesday following the May 7 election to discuss the “national crisis and outbreaks of violence,” according to the report.
“The country would have come to a halt and the government would have just one priority, ensuring the security of the state,” an unnamed source told L’Obs.
The magazine noted that although the plan wasn’t formally laid out in writing, it was discussed at a high level and was ready to be deployed if needed.
“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,” a source said.
Le Pen’s qualification for the second round of the election prompted outbreaks of violence in some cities across France. Demonstrators protesting on May Day threw petrol bombs at police.
Concerns about Le Pen’s potential win were already taking place ahead of the first round of the election on April 23, with a confidential note from intelligence services, stating “without exception, every local public safety directorate has expressed its concern,” Le Parisien reported a day before the voting.
Regional police chiefs were reportedly asked on April 21, two days before the first round of voting, to explain their crowd control and deployment plans to the government. On May 5, two days before the second round of voting, the national public safety directorate warned that protesters were ready to use “fireworks, mortars and incendiary bombs.”
The so-called crisis plan reportedly devised by the government was ultimately not required, however, as Le Pen received just 34 percent of the votes in the runoff. Rival Emmanuel Macron claimed victory with 66 percent.
Le Pen is the leader of France’s far-right National Front, a party founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 1972. She is most well known for her anti-immigration, anti-Islamization, and anti-globalization rhetoric. She is a vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump, who praised her during the French election but stopped short of a full endorsement.
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