Breaking: Macron will be the new President of France
BREAKING NEWS: Centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron had a commanding lead over far-right leader Marine Le Pen, according to projections released after balloting ended across France. The results, if confirmed, put Macron on course to be France’s next president.
This article will be updated shortly.
PARIS — After months of improbable twists in its campaign to pick a president, France hurtled toward a choice Sunday between a far-right firebrand who wants to deconstruct modern Europe and a centrist political neophyte who has promised to revive it.
Under clouds and a cool spring rain across much of the country, voters from the chic neighborhoods of Paris to the struggling postindustrial towns of the French countryside made their way to polling stations.
Pre-election surveys showed centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron enjoying a wide lead over populist challenger Marine Le Pen. But after a campaign studded with surprises, France was braced at least for the possibility of one more.
Across France, voting was sluggish compared with previous elections. About 65 percent of the country had cast ballots by 5 p.m., down from the presidential contests in 2007 and 2012, when turnout at that hour was above 70 percent.
Polls in most places close at 8 p.m. local time, or 2 p.m. Eastern time. Exit polls, which have been accurate in past elections, are expected soon after balloting ends.
The election in a country beleaguered by chronically high unemployment and recurrent terrorist attacks will end in a historic decision no matter whom the majority among the tens of millions of French voters select.
The dominant two parties of France’s Fifth Republic have been eliminated. The two candidates who remain, Le Pen and Macron, have traced an outsider’s path as they have sought residence at the Elysee Palace.
Le Pen, 48, is the second-generation leader of a party long relegated to the French political fringe but now maneuvering to the heart of the country’s unhappy political discourse with its attacks on immigration and the European Union.
Macron, 39, is a former investment banker and economy minister who bucked his ex-boss, President François Hollande, and launched a pro-European, pro-globalization movement that aims for the radical center by borrowing freely from both left and right.
Copyright Washington Post but shortened