September 21, 2018

Macron and Le Pen in French election run-off

50French voters are choosing their next president after an unpredictable campaign that has divided the country.
The second round contest pits centrist Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old former investment banker, against the far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, 48.
The latest figures show voter turnout is sharply down on the past two presidential elections.
The vote is being closely watched across Europe, as the results could affect the future of the EU.
Polling opened at 08:00 local time (06:00 GMT) and the final stations close at 20:00 (18:00 GMT), with early estimates of the result set to be reported immediately after.
Live updates: France elects a new president
More than 50,000 police officers have been deployed to maintain security.
Both candidates have been in the north of France on Sunday, with Mr Macron voting near his home in the seaside resort of Le Touquet, and Ms Le Pen in the working class town of Hénin-Beaumont, a stronghold of her National Front party. Both are due back in Paris later in the day.
If Mr Macron wins, his supporters would celebrate in the courtyard of the Louvre. The area was briefly evacuated on Sunday after a suspect bag was found.
A Le Pen victory would be celebrated at the Chalet du Lac in the Bois de Vincennes, on the eastern edge of the capital.
The two candidates have offered voters starkly different visions of France.
Mr Macron, a liberal centrist, is pro-business and a strong supporter of the European Union, while Ms Le Pen campaigned on a France-first, anti-immigration programme.
She wants France to abandon the euro in the domestic economy, and hold a referendum on France’s EU membership.
Polls suggest Mr Macron will win the vote, but analysts have said high abstention rates could damage his chances.
The latest turnout figures from the interior ministry show a considerable fall compared with the past two presidential elections.
The participation rate at 17:00 local time was 65.3%, compared with 72% at the same time in 2012 and 75.1% in 2007. It had even fallen below the election of 2002, when Jacques Chirac beat Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, winning 82% of the vote.

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