French Presidential Election 2017: As voting begins, Paris comes out for Emmanuel Macron

Karine Colman stepped out of queue briefly to chase her young son, then retrieved him and returned to her place in the line behind 10 other voters. At 10.30 am, the polling venue at the town hall in the 14th arrondissement of Paris was already seeing a steady stream of voters.

This Sunday France votes for its president; and the choice lies between the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and the far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

“She will not be good for my child,” said Colman, a teacher, who voted for Macron. “We don’t want an extremist party in power in France.”

Le Pen wants to tighten borders, leave the European Union (EU) and return to the franc. Macron is pro-Europe and an economic liberal.

In the first round of voting in April, Le Pen and Macron topped a field of 11 candidates to make it to Sunday’s run-off. Just 5% of Paris voted for Le Pen in the first round compared to 35% for Macron. On Sunday, Parisian voters appeared to be strongly backing Macron.

“The first round was expected but still scary because the right is rising,” said M Milon, 35, a consultant who voted for Macron. “It is happening in lots of places around the world. I hope she doesn’t win.”

He added that those who would be voting for neither candidate – France gives voters the option of voting “blanc” – remains a concern. “That is the question mark,” he said.

People line up to vote in the French presidential election at a polling station in Paris, France. AP

People line up to vote in the French presidential election at a polling station in Paris, France. AP


A higher than usual proportion of the electorate is expected to either abstain from voting or vote for neither candidate, a trend that is likely favour Le Pen. Until midday, turnout was 28.2%. By the end of the day, that figure is expected to go up to 75% or even higher.

Polls predict Macron winning with 60% of the vote or more, but no one is getting complacent. “We saw it in the US election with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The results were different from the polls,” said Stephane Dieutre, a 58-year-old management coach, who came out to vote with his wife Charlotte and their daughter. “We are confident about Macron but can’t say until the last minute.”

On Friday night. an online hack saw a huge data dump of Macron’s emails and other documents released online. It isn’t clear who was behind this. “With the cyber attack and leaks there could be a surprise,” said Dieutre.

France uses paper ballots. All morning people trickled in at the 14th arrondisement to vote.

“I hope Macron wins,” said Marie-Anne Malemeur, 81, a retired teacher. “Le Pen’s party would be a catastrophe.”

Updated Date: May 07, 2017 18:22 PM

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