France votes in tense presidential runoff

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

French voters have turned out for a presidential runoff election that has wide repercussions for Europe's future, with President Emmanuel Macron considered the front-runner but fighting a tough challenge from far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

The centrist Macron is asking voters on Sunday to trust him for a second five-year term despite a presidency that was troubled by protests, the pandemic and Russia's war on Ukraine.

A Macron victory in this vote would make him the first French president in 20 years to win a second term.

The result in France, a nuclear-armed nation with one of the world's biggest economies, could also impact the war in Ukraine, as France has played a key role in diplomatic efforts and firmly backed sanctions against Russia for its invasion of its neighbour.

All recent opinion polls converge toward a win for the 44-year-old pro-European Macron -- yet the margin over his 53-year-old far-right rival varies broadly. Polls also forecast a possibly record-high number of people who will either cast a blank vote or not vote at all.

Le Pen's support in France has grown during this campaign to her highest level ever, and much will depend on Sunday on how many people turn out to vote. Participation was 26.1 per cent at midday, slightly higher than in the first-round vote on April 10.

Many of those expected to choose Macron are doing so mainly to keep out Le Pen, whose platform is seen as extreme and anti-democratic, such as her plan to ban the Muslim headscarf in public. Macron has questioned her party's ties to Russia.

"I am serene," Le Pen said as she voted in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont and took selfies with fans. "I have confidence in the French."

Macron, meanwhile, greeted crowds with handshakes and embraces in the English Channel coastal town of Le Touquet.

Le Pen has sought to appeal to working class voters struggling with surging prices amid the fallout of Russia's war in Ukraine - an approach that even Macron acknowledged has found resonance in the public.

Macron has sought to appeal to voters of immigrant heritage and religious minorities, especially because of Le Pen's proposed policies targeting Muslims and putting French citizens first in line for jobs and benefits.

Macron has also touted his environmental and climate accomplishments in a bid to draw in young voters popular with far-left left candidates.

Le Pen, once considered a climate-change sceptic, wants to scrap subsidies for renewable energies. She has vowed to dismantle wind farms and invest in nuclear and hydro energy.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting