Voting is under way in the final round of France’s presidential race after a massive online dump of frontrunner Emmanuel Macron’s campaign data delivered a final dramatic twist to the country’s most bruising, divisive and significant election in decades.
The interior ministry said turnout at 5 pm was 65.3 per cent, noticeably down on 71.96 per cent at the last election in 2012 but in line with pollsters’ projections ahead of the vote.
The divisive election to choose the president has turned the country’s politics upside down, with neither of the two mainstream centre-right and centre-left movements that have governed France since the second world war making it to the runoff.
Seen as potentially the most important electoral contest in many years for France and the European Union, it has pitted against each other two candidates with diametrically opposing visions for the future of their country and the continent.
Macron, a 39-year-old former banker and economy minister running as an independent centrist, is economically liberal, socially progressive, globally minded and upbeat. Le Pen is a nation-first protectionist who wants to close France’s borders and possibly leave the euro and the European Union.