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Emmanuel Macron campaign hacked as France prepares for Sunday election

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-05-2017 John Fraher

London: France’s presidential election erupted into new controversy just before voting was due to start as the campaign of front-runner Emmanuel Macron said it was the victim of a “massive” cyber attack.

Minutes before a blackout on all campaigning at midnight Friday, Macron’s team said in a statement that hackers mixed fake documents with real ones stolen from staff’s personal and professional email accounts. That statement, which was picked up broadly by French media, said the activities shown in the documents were completely legal.

The country’s National Control Commission requested that media refrain from publishing details of the leaked information. The top aide to Macron’s challenger, Marine Le Pen, suggested that the leaks would reveal facts that he said the media had refused to investigate.

The incident was the latest twist in an election that has been marked by scandal and vitriol. Voting starts in mainland France on Sunday at 8 am local time, and results will be released starting at 8 pm.

Wide lead

While opinion polls credit Macron with a 24-point lead, investors are following the campaign closely since a Le Pen upset could reverse 60 years of European integration. A Macron win would sweep the country’s youngest-ever president into the Elysee Palace, and show France resisting the populist wave represented by Brexit and Donald Trump.

“The French are torn between voting for a break with the past and with the establishment, which means Le Pen, and the desire to preserve what they have, which means keeping the euro and voting Macron,” said Dominique Reynie, professor of politics at the Sciences Po institute in Paris. “In the first round on 23 April, the nine populist candidates scored just over 49% — France is very angry.”

Friday night’s leak came just before the traditional cutoff point in French elections, where candidates refrain from campaigning. Rallies, interviews and opinion polls are all legally banned until 8 pm on Sunday .

As Macron’s team argued that fake information had been mixed into the trove, Le Pen aide Florian Philippot suggested that the media had avoided scrutinizing Macron thoroughly.

“Will the #Macronleaks uncover things that investigative journalism has deliberately killed?” Philippot said in a tweet. “Frightening democratic shipwreck.” Bloomberg

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