5 Reasons Why Russia Might Have Opted To Intervene In French Presidential Election 2017 [Opinion]

Several reports speculating the intervention of Russia in the French presidential election 2017 have come into focus as soon as the first round of voting commenced. Cyber security experts have claimed that Russians launched cyber attacks to make sure centrist Emmanuel Macron does not make through to the final round of the elections to be held on May 7.

According to the French government’s cyber security agency ANSSI, it was a bit early to confirm if the hacking was conducted by a Russian group, Fancy Bear. The government, on the other hand, said that there might be a possibility of the involvement of “high-level” hackers in targeting Emmanuel Macron. Tokyo-based cyber security firm Trend Micro reported that the hackers created four different domains having addresses similar to the official name of the French presidential election candidate’s party, En Marche.

Despite Russia’s alleged involvement in tampering election results, Macron along with far-right leader Marine Le Pen has got through to the final phase of voting. However, there are several reasons that identify the factors that might have led Russia to intervene in the French presidential election process.

One of the major reasons behind the cyber attack might be the anti-Putin views of Emmanuel Macron. The centrist candidate claimed that he had to face multiple cyber and propaganda attacks ahead of the elections. It was also reported that the fake domains targeted the campaign’s databases.

Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in a rally meeting in Nice, France.
Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in a rally meeting in Nice, France. [Image by Aurelien Meunier / Getty Images]

The next on the list of factors that might have compelled Russia to tamper with the French presidential election 2017 is Marine Le Pen’s cordial relation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The candidate had a meeting with Putin on March 24.

Teneo Intelligence managing director Antonio Barroso claimed that the victory of the far-right candidate will help in the improvement of the nation’s attitude towards Russia. This will again better the “National Front’s strong links with Russian political and economic interests.” Moreover, Le Pen also supported Russia while it annexed Crimea.

Thirdly, Russia has recently been allegedly involved in the U.S. presidential elections 2016. The cyber security experts have claimed that the same hackers and resources have been used to tamper French presidential elections as reported during the hacking of the American election results.

Hillary Clinton’s victory would have meant insecurity for Russia. On the other hand, U.S. President Donald Trump’s win seemed a better alternative for Russian authorities. This is what made the claims regarding Trump-Russia links stronger. Similar is the case of Le Pen versus Macron. Hence, it is likely for Russia to play the same game as it did in the case of America.

Though not relevant at this stage but the soft corner of center-right French presidential candidate Francois Fillon for Russia could have been the fourth reason behind the cyber attack. In 2016, Putin and Fillon had a meeting. After the meeting, it was alleged that Fillon was paid $50,000 to arrange a meeting between the Russian president and a Lebanese billionaire.

Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron hosts a meeting in Paris.
Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron hosts a meeting in Paris. [Image by Sylvain Lefevre / Getty Images]

Fifthly, it is often said that history repeats itself. The possibility of Russian involvement in the French presidential election is evident as the nation has done so in the past. Russia’s KGB organized a covert propaganda campaign to damage the image of the then-presidential candidates Francois Mitterrand and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. It was declared as an “open intervention” in the French presidential politics.

The French presidential election, according to reports, bases mainly upon energy and climate change policies. As a result, Emmanuel Macron appears to be the strongest contender for the president’s post. If his campaign is followed, it is found that he pledged to double solar power as well as the wind power capacity of the nation by 2022. At the same time, he also promised to shut down all coal power stations in the next five years and also ban exploration of shale gas in France.

[Featured Image by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images]