The vote opens in France’s vote between Macron and Le Pen: NPR

Presidential campaign posters of the French president and center-right candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron, left, and the French right-wing extremist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, in Salies de Bearn, southwestern France, on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

Bob Edme / AP


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Bob Edme / AP


Presidential campaign posters of the French president and center-right candidate for re-election Emmanuel Macron, left, and the French right-wing extremist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, in Salies de Bearn, southwestern France, on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

Bob Edme / AP

PARIS – France began voting in a presidential election Sunday in a race between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen.

Macron is in pole position to win re-election for another five-year term in the country’s presidential election, but his lead over Le Pen depends on a major uncertainty: voters who could decide to stay home.

A Macron victory in this vote – which could have far-reaching consequences for Europe’s future direction and Western efforts to stop the war in Ukraine – would make him the first French president in 20 years to win another term.

All opinion polls in recent days are converging towards a victory for the 44-year-old pro-European centrist – yet the margin in relation to his 53-year-old nationalist rival varies widely, from 6 to 15 percentage points, depending on the opinion poll. Opinion polls also predict a possibly record number of people who will either cast a blank ballot or not vote at all.

Both candidates are trying to woo the 7.7 million votes of a left-leaning candidate who was defeated in the first ballot. The polls opened at 8 a.m. Sunday and close at 7 p.m. in most places, except for big cities that have chosen to keep the stations open until 8 p.m.

For many who voted for left-wing candidates in the first round on April 10, this vote presents a distasteful choice between a nationalist in Le Pen and a president whom some feel has turned right in his first term. The outcome may depend on how left-wing voters decide: between supporting Macron or abstaining and letting him stand up to Le Pen.

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