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Presidential: the French in the voting booth for a first round full of uncertainties | French Presidential 2022

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On this sunny Sunday, some 48.7 million voters must choose between twelve candidates, at the end of a strange campaign, marked first by the coronavirus pandemic then the Russian invasion in Ukraine which obscured part of the debate.

The first estimates will be known at 2 p.m. (EDT) after the last offices close.

Polls predict that Mr. Macron should come out on top, ahead of Ms. Le Pen, as in the previous poll in 2017, with radical left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in third place.

Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Mélenchon have very different positions from those of Mr. Macron on several international issues, being much more hostile to European integration in particular and saying they want to leave the integrated command of theNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization for example.

Election posters displaying the various presidential candidates in France.

Election posters bearing the 12 French presidential candidates.

Photo: Associated Press/Bob Edme

Many political scientists fear that the abstention record of 2002 (28.4%), the highest level ever recorded for a first round of presidential elections, will be beaten.

As of 4 a.m. EDT, turnout was 25.48%, down three points from the 2017 presidential election, but higher than 2002 (21.39%).

In Pantin, in the Paris region, Blandine Lehout, a 32-year-old actress, will not vote.

It’s the first time in my life, but now I hate them all. We are at a stage where they scare me. »

A quote from Blandine Lehout,

In Marseille, Carole Junique, 47, who works in the civil service, came first thing in the morning. In France, we have the right to vote, it is important to keep it; of course we only have one voice among others, but if everyone gets together, things can changeshe points out.

Many do not hide that their choice was difficult. Cédric Hodimont, in his forties, thus regrets having done a default vote.

Voters who line up.

In Paris, voters took their patience to vote.

Photo: dpa via getty images / THOMAS SAMSON

Towards a close duel between Macron and Le Pen

The various opinion polls show that Ms. Le Pen and Mélenchon have been on a path of progress for several days, substantially reducing the gap with the outgoing president, who entered the campaign late.

But the abstention and the fact, still according to the polls, that a large part of the electorate is not sure of its choice seem to leave the game open.

Of the 12, I had selected 4 last night, and I decided this morningexplains Françoise Reynaud, 55, a voter from Marseille.

Behind this trio, the other candidates seem off the hook, in particular that of the traditional right Valérie Pécresse and the other far-right contender Éric Zemmour.

  Emmanuel Macron and his wife.

Emmanuel Macron voted in Le Touquet, in the north of France.

Photo: pool/afp via getty images / THIBAULT CAMUS

For the second round, the polls give Mr. Macron the winner, but with a very narrow lead over Mrs. Le Pen, whose victory is not however excluded, which would constitute a double first in France, with the arrival of a woman. and the far right in power.

This first round will close several months of a campaign whose major issues, in particular climate change, have been absent. Purchasing power is the main concern of voters, especially since the war in Ukraine has caused significant inflation.

Ms. Le Pen has focused her campaign on this theme from the start, as has Mr. Mélenchon, whose party calls on left-wing voters to vote. useful in his favour, rather than for the benefit of the many other left-wing candidates, such as the ecologist Yannick Jadot, the socialist Anne Hidalgo or the communist Fabien Roussel.

Faced with the possibility of a victory for the far right, some candidates have already announced the position they will adopt on Sunday evening, such as Fabien Roussel who will block Mrs. Le Pen. Valérie Pécresse will not give instructions, but will say for whom she will vote.

In the entourage of Mr. Macron, it is admitted that the reflex of republican frontwhich he had benefited from when he was elected in 2017, is no longer obvious.

Data finished after its failure five years ago, worried by the eruption of the polemicist Éric Zemmour, Ms. Le Pen went up the slope, going so far as to present herself, during a last gathering on Friday, as representative quiet France facing a head of state aggressive and febrile.

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen, the extreme candidate voted in Hénin-Beaumont, in the north of France.

Photo: dpa via getty images / DENIS CHARLET

By a communicating vase effect, the daughter and heiress of the sulphurous far-right tribune Jean-Marie Le Pen found herself refocused on the political chessboard by the irruption of Éric Zemmour.

Mr. Macron played on his image as commander-in-chief monopolized by the health and international crises. A posture which first served him, but which then made him appear disconnected from the daily concerns of the French. His image has also been affected by his refusal to engage in televised debates against his opponents.

Realizing the danger, the outgoing president called from the beginning of April for the mobilization against an extreme right trivializedand claimed on Friday to have the spirit of conquest rather than the spirit of defeat.

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