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French election results: Macron will face Le Pen in second round head-to-head

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French election results: Macron will face Le Pen in second round head-to-head
Photo: AFP
00:46 CEST+02:00
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will fight it out in the second round of the French election on May 7th to see who becomes the next president of France, initial results show.

MAIN events:

01:00 - Please forgive us for having to close down this live blog after a mammoth 12 hours. We have to rejuvenate ourselves before tomorrow. Please come back for more analysis on what happened yesterday, which was, without exaggerating, absolutely momentous, if expected.

We'll also be looking forward to May 7th.

Here's our latest story on last night.

Macron the patriot vows to battle threat of nationalist Le Pen

00:05  -  Thoughts on what might happen next and in five years...

23:38 - Euro rises sharply after result of first round of election 

23:31 - New results being updated

Here are the latest results from our interactive chart:

23:15 - Leftist voters find Le Pen v Macron duel hard to swallow

French politicians immediately call on voters to block Le Pen

Out of the many Hamon voters The Local spoke to on Sunday night, only one said he wouldn't vote for Macron. But it would be with heavy hearts that those on the left will vote for En Marche candidate, who is just seen as too pro-free market for many on them.
 
"Hugo Bacoul, a Hamon supporter told The Local: "It's really complicated now because I think that 30 percent of French people relate to neither the values of Macron nor Le Pen.
 
"But we can't get Le Pen into power. Macron is not much better, but he is just not as bad."
 
Another Hamon supporter named Yves Lechermeier told The Local: "Macron is the worst candidate to run against  Le Pen. I will definitely vote for him but with disgust."
 
So Macron may benefit from the "Front Republicain" against Marine Le Pen to achieve the 50 percent he needs,  but that doesn't mean a majority of the French people will be over the moon to see him as their president.
 
 
 
22:56 How are France's departments voting? 

Emmanuel Macron may be the night's big winner but the first conclusive results coming in from departments across France show the measure of the challenge he will face to unite France if elected president in the May 7th run-off. 

In Ariége, traditionally a Socialist bastion whose southern parts nestle in the foothills of the Pyrenees, the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has emerged as the clear winner.  

Considered a rank outsider until recent weeks, Mélenchon's strong showing in televised debates thrust him into the running in what until then had been as a three-horse race between Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon. 

Ariège rewarded Mélenchon with 27% of the vote, giving him a handsome victory over Le Pen (22%) and Macron (21%). 

But the north-eastern Grand Est region had little time for the left-wing firebrand. In the department of Haute-Marne, for example, the National Front leader raked in 33% of the vote, streets ahead of Francois Fillon (19%) and Emmanuel Macron (18%). 

So who voted for Emmanuel Macron then? The first results from Brittany suggest the north-western region was fertile ground for the former economy minster, who topped the polls with 27% in both Morbihan and Côtes-d'Armor. Marine Le Pen trailed in third and fourth pace respectively in those two Breton departments where more than 83% of registered voters turned out to cast their ballots. 

LIVE: Interactive chart of the 2017 French presidential election results 

22:43 - New poll forecasts easy victory for Macron

New opinion polls published Sunday suggested France's pro-European candidate Emmanuel Macron would easily beat far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election on May 7.

Two polls by Ipsos Sopra Steria and Harris Interactive showed that Macron would win 62-64 percent against 36-38 percent for National Front leader Le Pen if the run-off was held today.

22:40 - Results still coming in and changing all the time

Click on the image to go to our interactive chart that updates in real time.

22:30 - Emmanuel Macron -  'I want to be president of patriots"

Macron says he wants to be "president of patriots against the threat of nationalists".

Macron speak to cheering crowds in Paris and tells them "I want to be your president. I want to be the president of all French people". He calls on voters to back him to "fight the threat of nationalism". 

22:17  - Emmanuel Macron will easily beat Le Pen in second round, poll shows

A new poll published in the hours after the first round results were announced shows Macron will easily beat Le Pen in two weeks time.

Here's a look at how he is now close to pulling off what no one believed he could do.

Emmanuel Macron well on course to pull off his crazy gamble

Emmanuel Macron is well on course to pull off his 'crazy gamble'

22:15 - Emmanuel Macron set to speak to supporters

There are still crowds at Porte de Versailles in the south of Paris who are waiting for Emmanuel Macron to give a speech.

He's on his way and is due to speak shortly.

22:08 - Mélenchon refuses to call to vote Macron

Defeated candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has bucked the trend tonight by being one of the few politicians who hasn't called on voters to block Marine Le Pen. Or not yet anyway.

"Everyone knows what they have to do," said Mélenchon who is a sworn enemy of Le Pen, but not a fan of Macron and his pro-business policies.

21:53 Germany's foreign minister welcomes projected first-round win for Macron

Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has reacted positively to the projected results from the first round of France's presidential election.

Gabriel, a Social Democrat, said he was "sure" Macron would win the run-offf against the far-right leader Marine Le Pen on May 7th.

21:35 - Clashes ongoing in Paris

Still tension at Bastille where anti fascist protesters have clashed with riot police tonight.

Protesters have been chanting "neither Le Pen nor Macron", clearly they are not happy with the results of the first round.

21:30 - Hollande congratulates Macron 

French president François Hollande has congratulated his former economy minister Emmanuel Macron on making the second round of the French presidential election.

Macron quit Hollande's government to launch his ambitious bid to replace him. It looks like paying off now that he is in the second round where he will face Marine Le Pen.

Macron is expected to win.

 

21:12 - Le Pen hails result and says 'It's time to liberate the French people'

Le Pen has just spoken to a joyous crowd of supporters in Henin-Beaumont. She said "the survival of France is at stake."

"This result is historic, the first step has been taken," she said.

She calls on voters to back her against François Hollande's "heir" Emmanuel Macron, which is greeted by boos.

21:00 Clashes in Paris between anti-fascists and riot police

After the result was announced there were clashes near Bastille in Paris between anti-fascist groups and riot police.

20:55  - Calls grow to block Marine Le Pen 

François Hollande, Alain Juppé, Benoit Hamon, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve...

The number of politicians calling on voters to block Marine Le Pen by voting for Emmanuel Macron grows by the minute.

This is called "faire barrage a"... and its been a common tactic in local elections and also in the 2002 presidential election when Jean-Marie Le Pen ended up in the second round.

20:50 - National Front supporters ecstatic

Here they are reacting to the result that will see Le Pen in the second round.

20:45 - Fillon says he will vote for Enmanuel Macron 

Fillon accepts defeat as his responsibility and says he will vote for Emmanuel Macron in the second round against Marine Le Pen.

"There's no choice but to vote against extremism".

He warned his supporters of the danger of Marine Le Pen and her National Front party who will only divide France.

20: 40 - Fillon's supporters angry at the press

This is the moment Fillon's fans found out the result at his headquarters in Paris. Then they started chanting at the press, whom Fillon himself blamed for the fake jobs scandal.

 

20:35 - Macron says "France is turning a page"

French centrist Emmanuel Macron on Sunday welcomed projections showing him reaching the runoff of the country's presidential election together with far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

"The French have expressed their desire for change," Macron told AFP in a statement, adding: "We're clearly turning a page in French political history."


Photo: AFP

20:30 Macron vs Le Pen a look at what happens next

'Patriots vs globalists'
 
A face-off between the two frontrunners Marine Le Pen vs Emmanuel Macron will now happen, initial results say.
 
This is the scenario Le Pen especially would choose to face and has already dubbed it "patriots vs globalists". Expect her to play on this division.
 
Le Pen vs Macron is being seen as a battle between old France and new France, “resignation” vs “optimism”, a closed country vs an open one, protectionism vs globalisation, a “free and independent France" versus a France that is an integral part of Europe.
 
Macron says Le Pen wants to take France back to the 1950s while he wants to pull it into the 21st century. 
 
Le Pen says "Islamism would be on the move" under a Macron presidency where as Macron accused Le Pen of making enemies out of France's Muslim population.
 
Everywhere you look there are clear battle lines. While everyone has talked of undecided voters, there presumably wouldn't be many if this pair went head to head.
 
There may be abstentions though. True leftists from Mélenchon and Hamon's camp may not be able to bring themselves to vote for pro-business Macron. Hardcore Republican supporters will also find both candidates unappealing. 
 
Who would win?
 
Emmanuel Macron should beat Le Pen hands down by 66 percent to 34 percent, according to a Harris Interactive poll.
 
Real loser
 
Fillon would need to go into exile if he does not make the second round, considering he was a shoo-in just months ago. 
 

 

 

 

20:20 - Here's the latest from AFP

Centrist Emmanuel Macron finished ahead of far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Sunday to qualify alongside her for the
runoff in France's presidential election, initial projections suggested.

Macron was projected to score 23-24 percent, with Le Pen at 21.6-23 percent, according to several polling institutes.

If the first-round result is confirmed, it would put the 39-year-old pro-Europe Macron within striking distance of the presidency.

He is on course to face eurosceptic, anti-immigration Le Pen in the May 7 vote seen as vital for the future of the ailing European Union.

20:15 - Meanwhile celebrations at Macron's camp

Our reporter at Macron's night Elisabeth Beratta says people are hugging and kissing each other and singing the Marseillaise.

20:13 - Fillon's nightmare coming true

Plenty of time to look at what went wrong for François Fillon but his spokesman has admitted he suffered "huge disappointment".

 

20:05 - Fillon fighting for third place it seems

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron were on course Sunday to qualify for the runoff in France's
presidential election, initial projections suggested.

If the first-round result is confirmed, it would put the eurosceptic, anti-immigration Le Pen within striking distance of the presidency in the May 7 vote seen as vital for the future of the ailing European Union.

20:00: BREAKING NEWS - Macron and Le Pen lead race to make the second round

19:58 - Meanwhile at Macron's event

19:55 - We have an interactive real-time results chart (that should work)

You can see hopefully see the real time results here as they come in throughout the night.

19:50 - Ten minutes to go before initial estimations

The mood at Emmanuel Macron's event in the south of Paris is up beat with chants of "Macron President".

It's worth remembering that if Emmanuel Macron makes it the second round, he is expected to beat all rivals fairly easily including Le Pen, Fillon and Melenchon.

19:45 - France's ministry of interior warns of "fake results"

19:45 - Foreign media call it

Lots of unofficial results and estimations flying around Twitter, most giving Emmanuel Macron a healthy lead, with Le Pen and Fillon behind fighting for second place. But we have to stress these are unofficial and media have been warning everyone not to trust them.

You only have to wait another 20 minutes to get the real ones.

19:33 - Fillon's quiet night...?

François Fillon was supposed to hold a huge event at the Palais de Congres on the western edge of Paris, but canceleld and instead is holding an event at his headquarters in the 15th arrondissement of Paris.

A sign that he is expected a bad result?

19: 30 - Marine Le Pen's supporters in patriotic mood

With half an hour or so to go before the initial estimations are published, Marine Le Pen's voters were in buoyant mood in Henin-Beaumont.

"I hope we are in for a big change. And of course I support Le Pen, I'm French," one middle aged woman, wearing a T-shirt with the FN's party slogan, tells the cameras. 
 
A hugely positive mood among the Le Pen supporters, many dressed up for the occasion, many bearing bouquets of flowers. 
 
The crowd occasional breaks into chants of "Marine, president" or "On est chez nous" (This is our home)

19:22 - Macron "embodies hope"

Béatrice Bihr, a 44-year-old lawyer who is supporting Emmanuel Macron told The Local France: "If he wins, Champagne but if he loses I'd be massively disappointed. He embodies a hope of renewal, he's my first choice."

19:20 - There are those who do not think Marine Le Pen has a hope, at least in 2017.

Marine Le Pen's chances of winning in 2017 are considered slim despite all the talk and the fact she stands a good chance of passing to the second round.

Nevertheless she may find she has a far better  chance in 2022. Here's why.

SOPINION: Stop the hysteria, Le Pen can't win... at least not this year

OPINION: Stop the hysteria, Le Pen won't win... at least not this year

 

19:15 - And what about France's beleaguered Socialist party?

There has been very little talk of Benoit Hamon today, mainly because he hasn't really got ahope of gettign into the second round. At least that's what polls say. Our reporter BLyth Brentnall has been talking to his supporters at his election night event at the Maison de la Mutualité in Paris.

Serge Nicolas, 55 who works in finance told The Local: "I don't think the Socialist party should remain as it is. In future it will be a new Socialist party.

"But  they will keep the same principles. The party will not go into decline. It's a shame Hamon did not work together with Melenchon.

19:10 - Meanwhile there's chaos up in Henin-Beaumont

Marine Le Pen's electoral night in Henin-Beaumont had room for 500 journalists. The only problem is their press people accredited between 750 and 1,000.

Lots of disappointed journalists stuck up in northern France.

19:00 - Polls around the country close but voting continues in big cities

So polling stations around France in the countryside and in the smaller towns are now closed. Voting will continue in big cities for another hour until they close at 8pm.

At 8pm TV stations will hope to give us initial estimation on who will qualify.

18:58 - A last look at what's on offer for voters

18:55 - 'This election is completely different'

A Melenchon voter in Paris tells our reporter Rose Trigg: "This election is completely different to the last one, then it was just Sarkozy and Hollande, but now we have all these other candidates.

"I don't think people are angry, i just think we are disappointed with politics.. We had five years of Hollande and not much happened on the left."

18:50 - More journalists in France today than snails?

At Emmanuel Macron's event in Paris there are said to be 1,100 journalists - 500 French and 600 international journalists (including ours). Then think of all those at Marine Le Pen's event in Henin Beaumont, at Melenchon's and Fillon's in Paris and at Socialist party candidate Benoit Hamon ,who is also in Paris.

18:40 - And what about Melenchon?

Our reporter Rose Trigg is in the Melenchon camp at a bar near Gare du Nord in Paris. THeatmosphere is bouyant but perhaps not as expectant as at Emmanuel Macron's on the other side of town.

Felipe Pestana, a 21 year-old student said: "We're looking forward to the results we have a lot of hope. The momentum is with Melenchon. He is the most popular..

The student however acknowledged he could finish the night disappointed.

18:30 - And why are people voting for Marine Le Pen?

Our reporter Oliver Gee up in Henin-Beaumont says: "Crowds gathering now outside the Le Pen party hall, and happy crowds at that. 
 
Some are holding flags, some have party merchandise like T-shirts with the National Front slogan. The national anthem had just broken out and it's unlikely to be the last time. 
 
Some party members are posing for photos for the press. Many who spoke to The Local are confident of Le Pen's chances tonight. 
 
 
This is why millions of French people will vote Marine Le Pen for president
 

18:25 - Who is voting for Emmanuel Macron?

In short the eight million or so voters who are expected to vote for Emmanuel Macron are in short the French folk who are quite happy with life.

They are not the angry/disillusioned/morose French people we hear so much about. These are people who are well educated, in decent jobs and think France (as Emmanuel Macron does) has quite a lot going for it.

That's unlike Marine Le Pen and François Fillon who think France is in a right mess. For more click below.

Who are the millions of French voters who will back Emmanuel Macron?

 

18:07 - Macron's team are confident

"It's emotional and stressful, but we are headed towards the second round. EN Marche! is not just another illusion, it's the solution for France," François Marien an advisor to Emmanuel Macron's movement En Marche tells The Local at the Porte de Versailles in southern Paris where Macron will be later.

18:05 - Fancy a Marine Le Pen mug or a pen or a badge?

18:00 - Don't expect results at 8pm or at least not definitive ones

In previous years the faces of the tow candidates who pass to the second round have been broadcast at 8pm on French TV. 

This year, with polling stations closing one hour later around the country there is a chance that counters will not be able to give us a definitive result at 8pm. It may just be too close to call.

TV stations are warning the public that they may put  three faces on their screens showing the initial results. Those results will be updated throughout the night.

In short it's expected to be very tight.

17: 45 - And we're also at Macron's event in the south of Paris

The Local has a reporter in Henin-Beaumont for Marine Le Pen, at Belushis bar near Gare du Nord for Jean-Luc Melenchon and at the Porte de Versaille for Emmanuel Macron's party/huge cry in.

One of Macron's supporters told our reporter Elisabeth Beretta: "He's going to make it to the second round, otherwise we'll all cry."

17:40 - Jean-Luc Melenchon's event - the "only one with a happy hour"

17: 30 - High security around Le Pen in Henin-Beaumont

Dozens of police vans are lining the streets around the building that will host Le Pen's election party later tonight in Hénin-Beaumont in northern France.  
 
Heavily armed police are on most corners, but the mood is very calm. 
 
Le Pen party members are beginning to show up at the event, where Le Pen herself will speak once the results are revealed. 
 
 
 
Quentin, a 22-year-old driver, is hanging around the front of the Le Pen meeting hall in the hopes of getting an invitation for the event.
 
 
"I just think Le Pen has a better programme than all the other candidates. That's the simple reason why I voted for her today," he told The Local. 
 
"And she wants to put France first. As for whether she will win the election or not, everyone's asking the same question and I don't know the answer. It's very complicated and apparently a very close race."
 
A 48-year-old woman who preferred to go unnamed said she voted for Fillon, but wasn't too worried about the threat of Le Pen. 
 
"As long as Mélenchon doesn't win it's fine. I don't even mind Macron so much. But for me, it's Fillon with the experience, the strength, the composure to lead France," she told The Local. 
 
"France had been hit by terrorism and I think Fillon would fight it well. Sure, many say Le Pen would be even better against terrorism, and she wouldn't be the worst candidate to win - but I want to stay in the EU and I'm not interested in going back to the franc so it's Fillon for me."
 
17:30 - Reporters decamp to tiny town in northern France

Henin-Beaumont a tiny former industrial town in northern France is swarming with international reporters becausethat's where Marine Le Pen is for her election night.

The mayor Henin-Beaumont, Steeve Briois is a close ally of Le Pen.

17:23 - Abstention rate estimated at 20 percent

The estimated abstention rate in the 2017 French election is 20 percent according to a poll. That"s slightly higher than in 2012, but well below the 28 percent abstention rate in 2002 that was seen as helping Jean-Marie Le Pen into the second round.

This doesn't necessarily mean this will harm his daughter Marine Le Pen's chances of making the second round of course. She may be one of the reasons for the healthy turnout.

A voter in the town of Melun told The Local France: "This election there are many more people who will vote. We have already seen this in Montreal and I think it's brilliant people want to make the most of their democratic rights."

17:00 - Fears of mass abstentions appear wide of the mark

At 5pm on Sunday the voter turnout was 69.4 percent, one of its highest levels in 40 years, data from the interior ministry showed Sunday.

That's a slight drop on 70.5 percent in the 2012 election at the same time.

It's also lower than the 73% turnout registered at 5PM in 2007, an election won by Nicolas Sarkozy.

The healthy turnout which should finish near the 80 percent mark suggests fears of mass abstentions were wide of the mark.

However French voters are allowed to "vote blank" this year, meaning they can cast a blank ballot, often in protest.

In 2002, when the far right Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked the country and made it to the second round, the turnout at 5pm was down at 58%.

That year was a record abstention for a French presidential election.

 

 

16:45 - Donald Trump is taking an interest in France

Trump suggested earlier this week that he favoured Marine Le Pen as candidate.

16:35 - Using French cheese to explain the candidates

 

There are a few ways to understand France's presidential candidates. One way is to read their programmes, or all the articles written about them. The other is to compare them to French cheeses as we have kindly done for you.

Understanding France's presidential candidates with the help of French cheese

Why French presidential candidates can be compared to fromage

16:30 - Understanding the French presidential candidates

This tweet is good if you want to know more about the candidates' positions in a very simple way.

 

15:55 - French taking their dogs to the voting booths

Photographers have noticed a tendency among many French voters to bring their pooches to the polling stations. They've made for great pics on Sunday.

15:45 - French authorities warned of rioting after results announced

According to Le Parisien newspaper authorities across France have been warned about the threat of rioting after the results are announced on Sunday evening.

The French intelligence report said that spontaneous demonstrations - which might turn violent - could be held in major cities and troubled banlieues after the results are announced.

Their main worry is that if Marine Le Pen passes to the second round it may spark trouble. There have been anti-Marine Le Pen protests at her rallies around France recently, notably in Paris.

15:30 - Security scares at a number of polling stations

Sunday's first round is being held amid tight security due to the terror threat that existed long before Thursday's police shooting on the Champs-Elysées.

Thankfully the day has passed off peacefully so far but there have been a few scares, notably after a car crashed into a polling station in the eastern town of Besancon. A gun was found in the car but the incident was dealt with as a crime rather than anything more sinister.

There were also other incidents involving suspect cars in the 20th arrondissement of Paris and in Saint-Omer in the north. The bomb squad were also called in at Haguenau in the east of the country.

Polling stations were briefly evacuated.

15:22 - The destruction of election campaign posters is a game played by many in Paris

15:15 - "A lot of our friends support Le Pen. She is extremely popular up here."

The Local's Oliver Gee is in Hénin-Beaumount, where Marine Le Pen of the National Front will be having an election party later in the evening. 
 
Le Pen is the only candidate who will be outside of Paris for the evening, and it's no accident that she ended up in this town of 26,000 people, whose National Front mayor, Steeve Briois, was elected with over 50 percent of the votes in 2014. 
 
Some 35 percent of the population voted for Le Pen in the first round of the 2012 presidential election, and a large percentage of the population is expected to do the same on Sunday. 
 
The former industrial town is quiet on Sunday, with most of the shops closed like any other Sunday, but with French and international press roaming the streets sending live streams across the world.  
 
 
Several residents who The Local spoke to had already cast their votes for Le Pen. 
 
"It's been a very complicated election period for many people in France. The National Front is popular here and we have a very active national front mayor who is excellent. He is bringing life back to the area, focusing on commerce," a 54-year-old health worker, who preferred not to be named, told The Local.
 
"I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of these indecisive voters changed their minds to vote for Le Pen after the terror attack on the Champs Elysées the other day." 
 
A 58-year-old labourer, who also preferred not to be named, also voted for Le Pen.
 
"She is extremely popular up here. I'm sure the National Front will perform well today."
 
But it wasn't only Le Pen supporters in Hénin-Beaumont on Sunday. 
 
"I definitely think Melenchon can get through to the second round," said 30-year-old temp, Dany. 
 
Nassimo, 59, who is unemployed, said it would be a disaster if Le Pen wins the presidency. 
 
"People are fed up of swinging between left and right, they want something, they want a change. It would be a disaster though if Le Pen makes it. I've lost my job but unlike many people here who go around chanting "Marine, Marine" I don't think she would change anything, it would only get worse."
 

15:00  - Be wary of fake results circulating online

Even now we have seen tweets flying around claiming to show exit polls or partial results. You can basically ignore these as pollsters aren't allowed near the count until polling stations close, which is at 7pm in most parts of the country, apart from big cities where they close at 8pm.

In past elections results have circulated online from around 7pm but this year, because polling stations are closing an hour later, pollsters who work out the initial results will struggle to get us anything by 8pm.

In other words you're just going to have to be patient.

14:45 - 'I don't want Le Pen to win but people need a scare'

Our reporter Elisabeth Beretta has been up in Aulnay-sous-Bois, a suburb to the north of Paris that hit the headlines earlier this year when a police officer was accused of raping a young man.

The Local visited Aulnay last month and found many voters were angry and uninterested in the election.

But the atmosphere was different today although many felt nothing would change for the poor Paris suburbs, no matter who won.

George a retired 75-year-old told The Local: "This whole campaign has been shameful. I just voted for Le Pen for a laugh. But of course I don't want her to win, but people need a good scare."

While many French voters will be shocked by that, many we have spoken to in recent weeks have talked about wanting to give the political system and established parties a real lesson.

Another voter Carlos Amendes said he did not fear Le Pen.

"The truth is that she can't change anything. She mixes up politics with things that have nothing to do with it."

Heloise Lupin a 23-year-old student said: "I'm not angry but I just don't know who will change anything."

A shopkeeper named Philippe said: "Whatever they propose is not going to be possible."

Another voter added: "For me, they are all the same, they make the same promised but don't keep them."

Antoine a barman said: "Even if Le Pen won, she wouldn't be able to rule. So I am not scared, and if I am not scared, I am not interested."

14:30 - Who are the voters who will back Marine Le Pen?

We took a good long look at all those eight million (perhaps more) voters expected to back Marine Le Pen today. You might be surprised by what we found.

Who are the eight million French voters ready to back Marine Le Pen?

Who are the eight million French voters expected to back Marine Le Pen?

14:25 - Le Pen posters unavailable abroad

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front (FN) did not deliver posters in time for them to appear outside voting booths
abroad, the French foreign ministry said on Sunday.

"The posters are printed by the candidates themselves and it is up to them to hand them in to the electoral commission before the deadline" of April 10, the ministry said.

It said "only 10" of the 11 candidates did this in time -- meaning their posters appear at polling stations abroad.

"The posters for the candidate Marine Le Pen were not provided so the corresponding poster board is empty," the ministry added.

Large metal boards are erected outside polling stations in France, with campaign posters for the 11 candidates.

Around 1.3 million French people abroad are registered to vote -- representing around two percent of the total electorate.

14:10 - Undecided to the end

There's been a lot of talk about undecided voters in this French election and there are many out there today. 

"I don't yet know who I will vote for, but I know who will not for," a 45-year-old woman named Aude told The Local on Sunday.

Why so many undecided voters? It seems that the main reason is that many voters have struggled to find a candidate they really back. The scandals involving François FIllon and Marine Le Pen have muddied the waters even further.

“There is a danger in having so many undecided voters at this late stage, said Political scientist Richard Kleinschmager.

"The danger is when we don't know what to hold on to," he said. "So we grab a lottery ticket while telling ourselves 'why not'. That lottery ticket is Marine Le Pen".

Why do millions of French voters still have no idea who to back?

Why do millions of French voters STILL have no idea who to back?

14:05 - The six scenarios facing France tonight

Here's a look at what will happen tonight and then more importantly what will probably happen next week. Could it be the "nightmare" duel of Le Pen vs Melenchon?

Who will be the next French president: The six scenarios facing France

Who will be the next French president: The six scenarios facing France

 

14:00 - France being pulled in different directions

13: 30 - "Peripheral France" takes a chance on alternative candidates

Our reporters Rose Trigg and Blyth Brentnall have been in Melun, a town outside Paris today. Melun is a classic sleepy slightly rundown town often referred to as peripheral France. There is often a large turn out among voters for Marine Le Pen as traditional parties are often rejected out of anger. It was no different on Sunday.

"Many voters we spoke to are taking chances on the "smaller candidates" they would not normally vote for. The feeling is that this is not an ordinary election and that anything can happen," said The Local's Rose Trigg. 

"Many voters also told us they would decide once they got in the voting booth," she added. 

There was also signs of anger towards the candidates particularly François Fillon.

Aude an adminstrator said: " I don't yet know who to vote for, but I know who I won't for. I am angry at Fillon. Politicians should be humble. They are detached from the lives of ordinary French people."

But there were signs Marine Le Pen would score very well in the town and surrounding area.

A bread stall owner owner told The Local: "What do you think? I'm a business owner so I'm voting for Le Pen."

Axel, a 20 year-old student in Melun told The Local: "It wouldn't surprise me at all if lots of people voted for Le Pen. There are lots of older people afraid of change."

A local National Front representative said much of the support for the National Front would come from the villages surrounding Melun.

Others spoke of their fear of Marine Le Pen becoming president.

Liliane Kalfa, 80 said: "Our daughter is a teacher and her pupils are scared of Marine Le Pen because it's an area with high immigration. Her discourse is one of hatred."

13:30 - Scare at polling station in Besancon

Voting was briefly suspended in the eastern town of Besancon after a car crashed into the polling station. The two occupants fled and local media report a rifle was found in the car. Voting has resumed and the circumstances around the incident remain unclear.

13:15 - Crazy queues in London as French expats vote

Images showed huge queues in London where French voters were casting their ballots on Sunday.

There were also huge queues in Montreal. One voter in Montreal named Laurence Gaelle told The Local: "We are voting for change.  

"I have voted for several French elections (living in Montreal) and generally its a in and out process of 25 min, today we waited in line for 2h30. The lines were longer once I left at 11h30."

13:00 - Voter turnout is up on the 2012 election

Turnout in the first round of the French presidential election at 1000 GMT on Sunday was slightly higher than at the
same stage in 2012, the interior ministry said.

Four hours after polling stations opened, turnout was just over 28.5 percent, which would put the final turnout on course to beat the figure of 79.48 percent in the first round in 2012.

French voters can of course "vote blanc", meaning cast a blank ballot. This is normally done in protest.

12:45 - Femen voters arrested in Henin Beaumont near voting station

Where Marine Le Pen goes, so do Femen. Around 10 members ofthe topless feminist protest group were arrested i nHenin-Beaumont where Marine Le Pen voted earlier.

12:30 - All the candidates have voted 

12:30 Welcome to the live blog

Stick with us throughout Sunday as we cover the first round of the French presidential election

 

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