Paris (CNN)As France’s presidential candidates gathered for the final debate in an already tumultuous election campaign, the sound of gunfire rang out on the streets of Paris once again.
Thursday’s terror attack on the Champs-Elysées, in which a policeman was killed and others wounded, just days before the country goes to the polls has brought yet another twist to an increasingly unpredictable election race.
But the notion that the attack could effectively hand the election to Marine Le Pen, who has taken a hardline stance on terrorism and called for France to close its borders, is misplaced, according to Emmanuelle Schön-Quinlivan, lecturer in European politics at University College, Cork.
On Friday, French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve accused Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front Party, of trying to make political capital out of the attack.
“The candidate from the National Front, like every drama, seeks to profit and use the situation to divide and benefit for exclusively political ends,” Cazeneuve told reporters.
French media report that the suspect in the case, named by the Paris prosecutor’s office as Karim Cheurfi, was on the radar of intelligence services before the attack.
But a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor, Agnes Thibault Lecuivre, said he was not on the official “Fiche S” surveillance list, which tracks individuals suspected of being radicalized.
Le Pen has previously called on the government “to expel foreign imams who preach the hate and fundamentalism of foreign Fiche S.”