French Go to Polls for Second Round of Elections

Paris is under lock and key in anticipation of clashes and violence

The second round of legislative elections takes place in France on Sunday, July 7. Polling stations opened at 8:00 and will close at 18:00, while in Paris and some other major urban centers they will be open until 20:00.

French and international media agree that “this is a decisive second round that could bring a historic victory for Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement Nationale (National Rally – ed.), the right-wing party, or create a lower house of parliament that will find itself in a dangerous political deadlock immediately after the vote.”

The first round of the June 30 elections produced the best result in the history of the National Rally, whose current chairman is 28-year-old Jordan Bardella. If support for current French President Emmanuel Macron’s weak centrist majority continues to decline, the head of state will be forced to share power with parties that oppose much of his policies, both economic and pro-European.

Paris, the capital of France, is experiencing Election Day with bated breath. An army of 30,000 law enforcement officers are monitoring the voting and are ready to prevent any disturbances, especially in the evening after the polls close. Immediately after the first results of the vote were announced, there were fears of street clashes across France, with stores armoring their windows with the help of special companies supplying custom-made metal plates, and banks got rid of cash and deactivated all ATMs, which in some cases were even dismantled. Cell phone stores, the most damaged and devastated by the riots at the end of previous demonstrations, demanded special protection.

Day after day, the snap election campaign – 20 days for the first round and only 7 for the second round – was marked by attacks, threats, and violence. Racism and antisemitism affected the entire election campaign, but especially the seven days that separated the two rounds from one another. As has often been the case in recent years, the French authorities deliberately accused Russia of spreading “propaganda and disinformation,” but failed to explain what they really meant.

Responding to these false and biased statements, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview on Russian television that the French elections “do not resemble democracy very much,” and that the second round is aimed at “manipulating the will of the voters.”

“The second round appears to have been designed precisely to manipulate the will of the voters, strongly expressed in the first round. If the results of the first round were used as the basis for a new French parliament, a number of important changes would take place in the country. I’m talking about the possibility of allowing candidates to withdraw after being persuaded to pave the way and allow conservatives or populists to win. This bears little resemblance to democracy,” the head of Russian diplomacy said during the TV program “Moscow, Kremlin, Putin.”