Why you should care about the French election

Macron said the far-right Front National (NF) leader Le Pen, with whom he is neck-and-neck in polling for the first-round vote, and Fillon - now in third place - were engaging in one-upmanship in their response to the attack.

In comments to the Associated Press, he said he was not endorsing Le Pen, but nevertheless called her the candidate who is "strongest on borders, and she's the strongest on what's been going on in France".

During the campaign, Trump notably seized on terror attacks as evidence that his warnings about the dangers of "radical Islamic terrorism" were validated.

Le Pen is the leader of France's far-right political party, the National Front (FN).

Marine Le Pen is renowned for her far-right views and has vowed to hold a Frexit vote, return to the French Franc and slash immigration to 10,000 a year while regaining control of French borders and cracking down on suspected Islamist terrorists.

The Islamic State-claimed slaying of the officer on Paris' Champs Elysees avenue thrust questions of security to the fore of campaigning after nine months of relative calm.

"It's hard to see how this attack will not play into the hands of political forces that want this campaign to be focused only on issues around migration and terrorism", said Erixon. "The people of France will not take much more of this".

Two others were wounded and the attacker was shot dead by the police. She won the role of party president in 2011, but the party has been a part of her life since birth: Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was co-founder of the party and the leader for more than 40 years.

Le Pen also argues for the restrictions on the civic rights of religious minorities in France. In a poll midweek, Macron appeared to have edged ahead of Le Pen.

"This war against us is ceaseless and merciless, ' she said, accusing the Socialist government of a 'cowardly" response to the threat.

The European Union has no special plan if the two anti-EU candidates reach the final round of France's election on Sunday, diplomats say, leaving the bloc to brace itself and hope for a centrist victor.

Marine Le Pen is not expected to win the second round of the elections on May 7, so the protectionism of Pierre Gellie's nightmares may well not materialize.

If Le Pen or Melenchon win a spot in the runoff, it will be seen as a victory for the populist wave reflected by the votes for Donald Trump and Brexit - the British departure from the EU.

Most of the major candidates canceled campaign events scheduled for Friday after a police officer was killed and two others injured in a shooting late on Thursday that the government was treating as a terrorist attack.

The vote is being closely watched as a pivotal event amid a global swing to the right, including Trump's election in November and Britain's decision to exit the European Union last summer, a move the U.S. president has applauded.

"I think we must one and all have a spirit of responsibility at this extreme time and not give in to panic and not allow it to be exploited, which some might try to do".

  • Leroy Wright