French election: Violence erupts as polls open

  • 23/04/2017

Clashes have broken out in Paris on the eve of the French presidential election.

The polls have opened across the country, where far-right candidate Marine LePen hopes to benefit from the backlash against the recent wave of violence.

In Paris on Saturday (local time), masked protesters dressed in black hurled missiles at police, who responded with tear gas.

The incident happened during a march organised by French unions and the missile-throwing appeared to originate from anarchist groups walking with the union marchers.

Ms LePen's charisma and confidence have thrust her right-wing National Front Party into the mainstream.

Like US President Donald Trump, she talks about patriotism, about cracking down on immigration and bringing back blue-collar jobs.

But there's a big difference between the two  Ms LePen's main base is among the young.

Sylvain Hechon is a 25-year-old activist in the town of Maubeuge, a National Front stronghold. He's in charge of the ground game, stuffing leaflets in mailboxes the old-fashioned way, but also posting campaign news on Facebook.

The day before the Paris shooting, Mr Hecon, like millions of young French people, was preoccupied with France's economic woes.

He showed CBS News a video by Ms LePen aimed squarely at millennials who face an unemployment rate stuck at nearly 25 percent.

He said young people believed immigrants were stealing their jobs. Ms LePen promised she will limit immigration, even if she has to use the military.

Ms LePen's supporters believe passionately in her and her agenda, but overall she remains a controversial figure.

CBS News / Newshub.