Tense France chooses new president

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For security reasons, he was driven to his polling station nearby. Macron, 39, a former Socialist economy minister and one-time banker who ran as an independent, was all smiles and petted a black dog as he stepped out of his vacation home.

Paris police said the evacuation was a “precautionary measure.” The Louvre already was being heavily guarded after an extremist attacker targeted soldiers near the museum during the presidential campaign. The museum itself was not evacuated, and tourists continued entering and leaving the site.
In France, Macron is the radical, not Le Pen
The ministry said 28% of eligible voters had cast ballots, compared with a half-day tally of 31% five years ago. France’s Interior Ministry said voter turnout at midday was running slightly lower than during the last presidential runoff in 2012.

Macron has argued that France must rethink its labour laws to better compete globally and appealed for unity and tolerance that Le Pen called naive. Le Pen has broadened the party’s appeal by tapping into — and fueling — anger at globalization and fears associated with immigration and Islamic extremism.

Commentators think a low turnout would benefit Le Pen, whose supporters are seen as more committed and therefore more likely to show up to vote.

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Marine Le Pen temporarily stepping down as National Front party leader

French cybersecurity agency to probe Emmanuel Macron hacking attack

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A “Frexit” would be far more devastating than Britain’s departure, since France is the second-biggest economy to use the euro. The country also is a central pillar of the EU and its mission of keeping post-war peace via trade and open borders. Global financial markets and France’s neighbours are watching carefully.

France is the latest country to back away from moral relativism

John Leicester in Paris, Alex Turnbull in Henin-Beaumont and Chris den Hond in Le Touquet contributed.

PARIS — French voters decided Sunday whether to back pro-business independent Emmanuel Macron or far-right populist Marine Le Pen as their next president, casting ballots in an unusually tense and important presidential election that also could decide Europe’s future.

With Macron the pollsters’ favourite, voting stations opened across mainland France at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) under the watch of 50,000 security forces guarding against extremist attacks. A security scare caused by a suspicious bag prompted the brief evacuation of the Louvre museum courtyard where Macron plans to celebrate election night.

The fate of the European Union may hang in the balance as France’s 47 million voters decide whether to risk handing the presidency to Le Pen, who dreams of quitting the bloc and its common currency, or to play it safer with Macron, an unabashed pro-European who wants to strengthen the EU.

Meanwhile, police and soldiers worked to secure the symbolic Paris venues where the next president will celebrate victory.

The grand internal courtyard of the renowned palace-turned-museum Macron picked for his celebration party reopened after several hundred journalists preparing for the election event had to leave because of the security alert over the suspicious bag.
France’s election campaign commission said Saturday that “a significant amount of data” — and some fake information — was leaked on social networks following the hacking attack on Macron. The leaked documents appeared largely mundane, and the perpetrators remain unknown.

In France, it is a test of whether voters are ready to overlook the racist and anti-Semitic past of Le Pen’s National Front party. presidential campaign. The vote will help gauge the strength of global populism after the victories last year of a referendum to take Britain out of the EU and Donald Trump’s U.S.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron, far-right Marine Le Pen to face off May 7 in runoff vote, pollsters project

Le Pen, 48, was able to vote without any incident after feminist activists were briefly detained a couple of hours earlier Sunday for hanging a big anti-Le Pen banner from a church in the northern town.

Election campaign posters for French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen are displayed in front of the polling station in Henin Beaumont, northern France, Saturday, May 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
If Le Pen wins, she plans to celebrate at the Chalet du Lac in the Bois de Vincennes, a vast park on Paris’ eastern edge.

Either candidate would lead France into uncharted territory, since neither comes from the mainstream parties that dominate parliament and have run the country for decades. The winner will have to try to build a parliamentary majority in elections next month to make major changes.———

Le Pen cast her ballot just a hundred kilometres away in Henin-Beaumont, a small town controlled by her National Front party. Macron voted in the seaside resort of Le Touquet in northern France alongside his wife, Brigitte Macron.
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France’s government cybersecurity agency, ANSSI, is investigating the hack, which Macron’s team says was aimed at destabilizing the vote. The most closely watched and unpredictable French presidential campaign in recent memory ended with a hacking attack and document leak targeting Macron on Friday night.

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