France is voting in the second round of the presidential election in a battle between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen.
Mr Macron, the incumbent president, is opposed to Mrs Le Pen, the leader of the Rassemblement National party, and both were photographed voting on Sunday.
These are candidates who could hardly bring more contrast – Mr Macron from the center of politics; Mrs Le Pen with more radical views.
Image: French President Emmanuel Macron voted in the polling station in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage Image: Marine Le Pen casts her vote on Sunday morning
A man whose support lies in cities and big cities, against a woman who relied heavily on the countryside and small towns.
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6:44 Macron vs Le Pen – What’s different about this French election?
Explanator: How right is Marine Le Pen? The analysis of its policy brings some surprising conclusions
Polling stations opened at 8:00 local time (7:00 UK) and close at 19:00, although some centers in major cities may remain open for another hour until 20:00.
Turnout by noon (11:00 British time) was 26.41% – lower than at the same time in 2017 (when it was 28.23%), but higher than in the first round of this year’s elections two weeks ago, when it was 25.48%.
Voting has already taken place in the French overseas territories, with polling stations set up in other countries with a significant French population.
In the United Kingdom, there are 16 to six in London, six in the rest of England, three in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland.
After hours in France exceed 20:00 (19:00 in the United Kingdom), output surveys will be published, followed shortly by an official preliminary estimate based on the first censuses.
In addition, new information will be published on a regular basis to update the overall result. The so-called “final” result will not appear until Monday – although of course the identity of the winner may show before.
Image: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen were both on the ballot of the last presidential election five years ago
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Macron and Ms Le Pen emerged as leading candidates after the first round of elections two weeks ago, when French voters were asked to choose from a field of 12 candidates.
Since then, they have spent fourteen days campaigning across the country on a range of topics, although both candidates have paid close attention to how France can best cope with the rising cost of living.
Great emphasis was also placed on foreign affairs, immigration and social cohesion. There were significant differences between Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen in all these areas.
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1:01 Mood in France before the election
The two met in public on only one occasion, when they met face to face in a television debate watched by 15.6 million people.
This was the lowest number ever recorded in a lively French presidential election debate, but still represents a much larger audience than the equivalent debates held in the United Kingdom.
Image: Mr Macron welcomes people to the beach near his house in the North Sea town of Le Touquet
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This time, a lot of attention will be paid to turnout and a lot of speculation that voters will stay away because they don’t particularly like any of the candidates.
Others say they feel obliged to come to the polling station, but simply leave their ballot paper blank – the so-called white vote.
And then there is the question of what will happen to the more than 20 million people who supported the socialist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round when he finished third.
Will they support the remaining radical, Mrs Le Pen, or will they decide to support the president instead, despite the well-known claims that he has done too much to help the rich rather than the economically poor?
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Mrs. Le Pen and her team will be based in a place called Pavillon d’Armenonville, on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne. Mr. Macron’s team is creating its own environment on the Champ-de-Mars, near the Eiffel Tower.
Mrs Le Pen and Mr Macron are experienced politicians over time, but their views on what to do with the presidency are very different. They both planned this election, they were preparing for this decisive day, and they both desperately want to win.
But only one can. Before Sunday becomes Monday, one of them will be given a five-year mandate to run this rich, powerful and influential country. And the other will regret the missed opportunities and will be surprised that their political career is over.