Speaking to Express.co.uk, James Shields, Professor of French politics at Warwick University explained President Macron’s inability to tackle soaring concern for national security and domestic terror in France, as exposed by recent polling of the electorate, could see far-right presidential candidate and leader of anti-immigration party National Rally, Marine Le Pen, take advantage over the fact the French feel unsafe under Macron’s control.
The French expert noted how the “war on terror”, propelled by the atrocities such as the Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan attacks, is felt “acutely” by the French electorate.
As a result Professor Shield stressed how security and the fight against terrorism are set to be “central issues in the Presidential election” next Spring.
He explained how therefore, President Macron will be judged in the race for the Élysée Palace on whether he can keep France safe.
The French expert however warned it is on this specific issue that Macron is “more open to attack” than he is in his foreign policy initiatives in Africa’s Sahel region.
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But in a shocking statistic, Professor Shields noted how recent polling in France has shown that a whopping two out three respondents feeling “increasingly unsafe in France”.
While an astonishing fewer than one in five believing that the problem of domestic security can be sorted out.
As a result he warned competitor Marine le Pen sees a “big opportunity” to take advantage of the French electorates distrust of Macron’s ability to keep France safe which Prof Shields branded “his weakest point”.
He said: “She [Le Pen] takes her flagship issue of immigration, she links this to security, that links immediately to terrorism.
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“And we can all be sure that is the platform on which Marien Le Pen is going to build her presidential campaign.”
In acknowledgement of this weakness, President Macron has brought in various anti-islamist security reforms in recent years, alongside a sharp rise in security spending by several billion euros.
Professor Shields noted these changes are “all attempts to reinforce a flank where he is vulnerable to attack from Marine le Pen in particular”.
The French political expert concluded that President Macron therefore knows such an attack will come by “linking the issues of immigration, and security, and terrorism.”
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Polls have shown that the most likely candidates to enter the run-off are President Macron and Marine Le Pen.
In polling from NSPPolls as shared by The Guardian newspaper this week, President Macron is tipped to recieve 26 percent of first round votes.
While Ms Le Pen is tipped for 19.6 percent of votes cast.
A first round is to be held on April 10, and in the likely event that no candidate receives a majority of the votes, a second round runoff will be held two weeks later, featuring the two leading candidates from the first round.
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