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France Votes for Presidential Finalists After Unique Campaign

France Votes for Presidential Finalists After Unique Campaign

DNA, APR 23, (DNA) – French voters are heading to the polls Sunday to select two candidates for the presidential runoff, an election that will determine how far the populist wave can go in Europe.

After a campaign that has remade the nation’s political landscape, four candidates with radically different visions are in a position to qualify for the next round. They are Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader who wants to pull France out of Europe’s single currency; Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon, who wants to remake the rules governing that monetary union; Francois Fillon, the Republican former prime minister who proposes tough economic reforms; and Emmanuel Macron, a centrist pro-European contesting his first-ever election.

“For weeks, the French have been stating their frustration with an unsatisfactory campaign,” pollster Bruno Jeanbart said in a note for the Fondation Jean Jaures. “Ultimately they have to choose between four drastically different candidates with almost identical chances of success.”

The campaign has been long by French standards, kicking off in earnest last September as the Republicans held their first-ever primary contest, and it has overturned traditional French politics. Of the two parties that have run France for the past half-century, the governing Socialists have been reduced to an also-ran; their candidate, Benoit Hamon, is running in the single digits. The Republicans, led by Fillon, trailed in third place for much of the race.

Polls opened at 8 a.m. Paris time and will close at 7 p.m. in rural areas and 8 p.m. in big cities. Results will be released starting at 8 p.m. Sunday and the top two finishers of the 11 candidates will go into a runoff that will be decided on May 7.

Macron voted along with his wife Brigitte in the northern resort of Le Touquet around 10.30 a.m., while Hamon cast his ballot in Trappes, in the western suburbs of Paris. Le Pen voted in Henin-Beaumont, her stronghold in northern France. Fillon is due to vote in central Paris.






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