French voters are set to decide who will take charge of the country’s presidential roles after undergoing one of the most divisive campaigns.
Round two of the fierce contest pits the far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen (48) against centric Emmanuel Macron (39).
As at 12:00 local time, the voter turnout was registered at 28.2 percent, a record much lower than all the past elections.
Europe is keenly interested in the election since the results could have a significant impact on the European Union future.
Voting began at 08:00 local time and will close at 20:00 latest. Early results estimates will likely be out immediately after closure of the final polling station.
Over 5,000 police officers have been deployed all over the country to keep safe the voting process.
The two candidates visited north of France, with Ma Le Pen voting in the working class town of Hénin-Beaumont that is also her stronghold while Mr Macron in his rural home. Both of them are scheduled to back in Paris later on.
Mr Macron has planned to celebrate his victory in the courtyard of the Louvre. Tensions were briefly witnessed in the area after a suspect bag was located.
Le Pen plans to celebrate her victory at the Chalet du Lac in the Bois de Vincennes.
What do voters have at hand?
Both candidates have individually placed on the table different visions for France that the voters have to pick.
Mr Macron strongly supports the European Union due to his pro-business policies. Ms Le Pen on the other hand prioritizes France and strongly against the immigration programme.
She is of the opinion that France needs to take the Brexit route and hold a referendum on the country’s involvement with the EU.
So far the polls suggest Mr Macron has a high chance of winning the election but due to high rates of absenteeism, his chances may be spoilt.
The current turnout is much lower than the 2007 and 2013 elections.
What makes this election so vital?
France is set to choose between two factions – its youngest president ever or its first female president.
The election also marks a new era in French politics. This is the first time that the two major parties – the Socialists and the Republicans – have failed to make it to the run-off.
Europe is also closely following up the election because it comes at a time when Britain wants to negotiate its exit from the EU as Germany sets up an election.
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