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As it happened: Emmanuel Macron elected president of France

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As it happened: Emmanuel Macron elected president of France
All photos: AFP
01:07 CEST+02:00
Emmanuel Macron has become France's youngest ever president after initial results showed he had beaten Marine Le Pen by a commanding margin of 65 percent to 35 percent.

01:01 - Closing live blog

We're closing off our blog now after an historic result for France - which elected its youngest president in modern history with 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron. Here's a recap of the day. Scroll down for a look at the day as it panned out. 

As for us, we're closing off the blog for tonight, but will be back early on Monday morning with more reaction, information, and analysis. 

Thanks for reading.

00:51 - Macron takes Paris by 90 percent to 10 percent for Le Pen

 

And in the 19th arrondissement where our office is the score was the same...

00:35 - The newspaper front pages are coming out

In the UK the centre right's Daily Telegraph headlines on how the victory of the pro-EU Macron "puts a cloud over" the country's Brexit plans. 

The Daily Mail, which had been following Le Pen's march to the second round closely didn't bother with putting the French election on its front page.

00:25 - Five reasons why Emmanuel Macron is not your typical French president 

Emmanuel Macron will be a president apart from his predecessors.

For a start his wife is a lot older than him rather than a lot younger and he speaks fluent English. 

Five reasons why Emmanuel Macron is not your typical French president

Five reasons why Macron is not your typical French President

00:13 - Joy at the Louvre as Macron tells jubilant supporters: 'Tonight France won'

The Local's Oliver Gee was at Macron's event at the Louvre where the supporters of Emmanuel Macron were elated and relieved to learn their candidate won the French presidency on Sunday. But that doesn't mean they think the future of France is assured, he writes. 

"Now we have a new president with a whole new movement. I'm very excited now to see if he gets supported by everyone in France. We know we have a divided country but I hope he is given the opportunity to do what he wants to do to lead France," Casimir, a 27-year-old entrepreneur told The Local.

Of course; many pointed out that just because Macron would lead France for five years, it didn't mean the face of the far right would be buried forever. 

"We have to continue to battle against the National Front, against Le Pen. Just because she didn't win this time doesn't mean she will disappear," said 19-year-old Guillaume. 

23:36 - The maps and charts that tell the story of how France voted

Sometimes the story is best told in maps and charts.

How France voted: The maps and charts that tell the story

23:30 Another video of Macron's speech

23:09 Marine Le Pen seen dancing at her party in the Bois de Vincennes

She's probably not too displeased with the result then.

23:00 - Macron says "The task is immense. It starts tomorrow"

22:50 - Macron tells the French 'I will serve you with love'

22:43 -  'I will do everything it takes so no one votes for the extremes'

Macron arrives at the Louvre to the EU's hymn 'Ode to Joy'.

He takes to the stage to chants of "Macron President!"

"There is no precedent, no equivalent to what we did," he told The crowd. "Everyone said it was impossible, but they didn't know France.

He then thanked voters for the "risks" they took and "commitment".

"Our task is immense and it begins tomorrow," he said. 

Macron mention those who had voted for Marine Le Pen, who name was greeted with boos.

"Don't whistle them. They expressed an anger, sometimes by conviction. I respect them but I will do everything I can in the next five years so that no one votes for the extremes.

"The world is watching us tonight," Macron said.

22:42 - Macron speaks live (we hope this works)

22: 32 - Macron and the country's new first lady are not camera shy

Here's a look at Macron and his relationship with Brigitte Trogneux in photos. They love a good kiss in public.

IN PICTURES: Emmanuel Macron's romance with France's new first lady Brigitte Trogneux

22:13 - Some reaction from jubilant Macron voters

This is from our reporter Oliver Gee who is down there: 

The crowd erupted in flag-waving glee for minutes after the result was announced, as Macron supporters hugged one another and leapt for joy. 

"I'm so happy, it's been an 8-month battle," said 37-year-old Frederic, who works in fashion, over cheers from the crowd. 

"This is something new for Paris, for France, for Europe and for the world."

Others talked of "pure joy", with one supporter saying he felt "like a plant seeing the sun for the first time". 

After the elation, a kind of calm swept over the crowd as the result sunk in, and several members of the public told The Local they were feeling an overwhelming sense of relief. 

"It's a relief to see that Le Pen has such a low score. It was obvious Macron would win but 65 percent is very good news," Casimir, a 27-year-old entrepreneur said. 

"Now we have a new president with a whole new movement. I'm very excited now to see if he gets supported by everyone in France. We know we have a divided country but I hope he is given the opportunity to do what he wants to do to lead France."

22:00 - Macron is on his way to the Louvre

Some videos from  the Louvre where Macron is set to greet supporters.

21:57 - French euro rallies after Macron win 

The euro rallied to $1.1023 from $1.0998 in early Asia-Pacific forex trading Monday after pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency, scoring a resounding victory over far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

The single currency reached its highest level since November on Macron's win, but the gains were modest compared to the reaction following his first round victory last month with markets largely pricing in Le Pen's defeat.

However, the 39-year-old former investment banker's victory effectively eliminates any risk of France leaving the single currency bloc.

"It's being interpreted as positive for risk sentiment as well as positive for the eurozone," Imre Speizer, senior markets strategist at Westpac NZ told AFP.

"I think what the Europeans have said in that corner of Europe is a resounding 'No' to populism."

Initial estimates showed Macron winning between 65 percent and 66.1 percent of the ballots -- a higher than expected score - and Le Pen scoring between 33.9 percent and 35 percent.

Unknown three years ago, Macron is now poised to become one of Europe's most powerful leaders, bringing with him a hugely ambitious agenda of political and economic reform for France and the European Union.

But many analysts are sceptical about Macron's ability to win a parliamentary majority, meaning he might have to form a coalition of lawmakers committed to his agenda.

Furthermore, his economic agenda, particularly plans to weaken labour regulations to fight stubbornly high unemployment, are likely to face fierce resistance from trade unions and his leftist opponents.

He also inherits a country which is still under a state of emergency following a string of Islamist-inspired attacks since 2015 that have killed more than 230 people.

Le Pen, 48, had portrayed the ballot as a contest between Macron and the "globalists" -- in favour of open trade, immigration and shared sovereignty -- and her "patriotic" vision of strong borders and national identities.

21: 45 -  Le Pen voters left disappointed in Bois de Vincennes, east Paris

21: 40 - Twitter reacts to Macron's "serious" victory speech

21:33 - The Louvre awaits France's new president

Macron is about to leave his campaign HQ in the 15th arrondissement to head to the Louvre where his supporters await him

21: 28 - Donald Trump congratulates Macron

21:23 - Macron's speech far more solemn than after first round

Macron appeared to have learned his lesson after the first round victory speech, when he was accused of being arrogant and celebrating prematurely.

But in a somber speech to French TV tonight he said he was speaking to "all of France's citizens, not just those who voted for him."

21:13 - Macron says he is aware of 'anger, doubts and anxiety'

Macron has been speaking.

France's president elect says he is aware of 'anger, anxiety and doubts' in France. 

Macron says he "understands the division of the nation that drove many voters to  the extremes. 

"It's my responsibility to understand them and to protect the most fragile... and fight against inequalities," said Macron. 

Macron said he will defend Europe. "It's our civilization that is at stake."

21:00 - Le Pen was always likely to fail in quest to match Trump

After Donald Trump's stunning victory in last year's US presidential election, Marine Le Pen became convinced she could ride the same wave of populism to the Elysée Palace. But in reality she was far from pulling off another shock.

After Brexit and Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen was meant to be next big shock.

Riding on the same anti-immigration populist tidal wave, promising to make France great again, the far-right Le Pen was presented almost as a shoo-in for the Elysée Palace.

Even when the polls gave Macron a seemingly unassailable lead, people warned that the polls had been wrong about Trump and had failed to grasp the level of anti-EU feeling in Britain.

Even political analysts were reluctant to rule Le Pen out, despite Macron's 20 point poll lead.

But in the end Le Pen was always a very unlikely winner.

Analysis: Why Marine Le Pen was always likely to fail in her quest to match Trump.

Why Marine Le Pen was always likely to fail in her quest to match Donald Trump

20:50 - Merkel is the latest to send a message to Macron

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman welcomed Emmanuel Macron's resounding win in France's presidential election on Sunday as a "victory for a strong and united Europe".

"Congratulations, @EmmanuelMacron. Your victory is a victory for a strong and united Europe and for French-German friendship," wrote Steffen Seibert in French and German on Twitter.

Separately, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel hailed Macron's win for keeping France "at the heart of Europe".

"Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite! France chose that today. The great nation was, is, and remains in the middle and at the heart of Europe," wrote Gabriel on Twitter, using France's national slogan which means "liberty, equality, fraternity".

Merkel and her government had thrown their support behind Macron against far-right and anti-EU challenger Marine Le Pen.

20:46 - A new chapter for France

French President-elect Emmanuel Macron told AFP that his victory in Sunday's election represented "hope" and a "new chapter" for France.

"A new chapter in our long history begins tonight. I want it to be one of hope and renewed confidence," Macron said.

20:36 - More quotes from Le Pen
 
Speaking to her supporters in the Bois de Vincennes, Le Pen struck an optimistic tone, focusing on the party's "historic" result at 35 percent. "I want to thank the 11 milion French people who gave me their vote and their trust," she said.
 
She also thanked France Stand Up candidate and fellow eurosceptic Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, and hinted at future collaboration between the two parties saying "The National Front is engaged in a strategy of alliance."
 
She promised that the movement would undergo a "profound transformation" to create a "new political force". 
 
She also highlighted how the party will try their best to make sure Emmanuel Macron's job is not an easy one.
 
"Our patriotic and republican alliance will be the primary force of opposition to the programme of the new president," she told the crowd, calling to "all the patriots" to join the movement.
 

20:29 - World leaders congratulate Emmanuel Macron

François Hollande has warmly congratulated Macron on his win as as British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The EU's Jean-Claude Juncker has hailed France's voters for choosing a European future.

20:26 - Just how did Emmanuel Macron do it?

From elite high school student to adviser to minister to rebel to chancer to president of France.

This is how Emmanuel Macron became France's youngest ever president.

How Emmanuel Macron went from top of the class to president of France 

How Emmanuel Macron went from top of the class to president of France

20:24 - The Louvre is in patriotic mood

An elated crowd at the Louvre, but also a very noticeable feeling of relief, says The Local's Oliver Gee who is at the scene.

Some told The Local that it was a relief to get the win, others that Le Pen lost. 

"It's a relief to see that Le Pen has such a low score. It was obvious Macron would win but 65 percent is very good news. Now we have a new president with a whole new movement. I'm very excited now to see if he gets supported by everyone in France. We know we have a divided country but I hope he is given the opportunity to do what he wants to do to lead France," says Casimir, a 27-year-old entrepreneur in Paris. 

The flags are still occasionally waving, and I've heard the national anthem once, but the rest of the real cheers are being saved for Macron's appearance, scheduled for 10pm.

20:22 - More reaction from Macron supporters

20:20 - Macron: new 'chapter for France'

Winner Emmanuel Macron has told AFP that a new "hopeful and confident chapter begins for France".

20:15 - Le Pen concedes defeat

The losing candidate congratulated Macron and heralded the fact her party has become France's first party of opposition.

She wishes Macron "success faced with huge challenges".

Le Pen's speech is short and sweet. Defiant to the end.

20:10 - Macron has called Marine Le Pen

The two candidates have exchanged what was described as a cordial phone call. Le Pen will no doubt concede defeat shortly

20:06 - The celebrations have begun at the Louvre

20:05 - Macron is France's new head of state

The 39-year-old former banker set to become France's youngest ever president after gaining a decisive lead over Marine Le Pen.

20:00 Emmanuel Macron elected president of France

Macron wins by 65% to 35%

19:55 - Follow us on Facebook where we will be live from the Louvre

Our reporter Oliver Gee is about go live at the Louvre.

Follow him here.

https://www.facebook.com/thelocalfrance/

19:53 - Both Le Pen and Macron will speak in the next hour

We'll bring you reaction from the winner and the loser as soon as they pick up the mic. Le Pen is expected to speak first.

19:50 - Mammoth French election campaign almost over

There's ten minutes to go before this mammoth French election campaign comes to an end. It feels like it started a few days after François Hollande was elected in 2012.

It's had everything. 

The 14 standout moments of the 2017 French election campaign

14 standout moments of the historic 2017 French presidential election campaign

19:45 - Atmosphere building at the Louvre

Official first estimate is just 15 minutes away but the atmosphere is building at the Louvre, where Emmanuel MAcron's supporters are gathering.

They think they are going to be on the winning team.

19:37 - Up to 15,000 Macron supporters expected at the Louvre

The floodgates open to the Esplanade du Louvre and Macron's supporters stream in with their European and French flags waving. 

Many wear shirts saying "Macron president" and the mood is overwhelmingly positive as they pose for the press. 
 
"I am super excited because we are sure our candidate will be the next president," says Frederic, 37, who works in the fashion industry. 
 
"We have been waiting for over six months for this. France needs Macron, he brings everyone together. Everything has been the same in France for too long."

19:35 - How are the votes counted?

If you're wondering how all the votes can possibly be counted between most polls closing at 7pm and the results being announced at 8pm, the answer is that they wont be. 
 
The result we will see at 8pm is based on the votes counted in 250 designated polling stations around the country that are considered to be have an accurate cross section of French voters. 
 
Hence the initial percentages given at 8pm can change slightly as the rest of the votes are counted. 
 
But as the first round demonstrated, it's pretty accurate. 
 
19:33 - What would Marine Le Pen's '1950's' France look like?

Marine Le Pen is often accused either by critics or nostalgic supporters of wanting to take France back to a bygone age or the 1950s as some say.

Our reporter Rose Trigg has dug out some old 1950s pics ( as well as some more modern ones) to give an insight into how Le Pen's France would look like.

It's basically just an excuse to look at some old pics of France.

In pictures: What would Marin Le Pen's 1950's France look like?

In Pictures: What would Marine Le Pen's '1950's' France look like?

19: 30 - More on the media boycott of Marine Le Pen

Around 15 news outlets said Sunday they had been barred from the election night gathering for French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and her supporters.

Le Pen's National Front (FN) said they were turned away because of a lack of space at the venue, a dance hall in Vincennes, just east of Paris.

Le Monde, Liberation and L'Humanite newspapers said they would boycott the event out of "solidarity" with the other outlets.

Buzzfeed and Mediapart were among the online news sites that said on Twitter they were refused accreditation for the event, as well as reporters from Britain's Sky News, the US monthly The Atlantic and the Italian public TV channel Rai.

"In solidarity with our counterparts, the editors of Liberation... have decided not to attend," the paper's deputy editor said, calling the snub "anti-democratic".

19:25 - Macron supporters file into the Esplanade du Louvre

19:20 - French media boycott Le Pen event

Le Monde newspaper have become the latest French media to boycott Marine Le Pen's election night in solidarity at other French media that have been barred.

Leftwing Liberation newspaper announced a boycott earlier. 

The National Front has been accused of barring journalists from public events during the campaign and forcibly removing journalists.

19:10 - Anarchist protests planned in Paris

There are reports that some anarchist groups are planning a protest against the election result from 8pm tonight when the results are announced. 
 
The protest, which is being called "Night at the barricades round 2" is set to take place in Paris's 20th arrondissement in the north east near Ménilmontant and comes after the May day protests which descended into violence.
 
According to the event page "the results of the election aren't important. Let's all take the the streets to block the new president". 
 
Remember that there were clashes with police after the first round vote in Bastille and during May Day rallies.
 

19:00 - Polling stations close around France

Polling stations are now closed around most of France. Only those in big cities will remain open until 8pm now.

18:55 - What the French president can do

18.45 - What motivates each candidate's voters?
 
We spoke to Macron and Le Pen's voters to find out exactly why they were backing their candidate in one or two sentences. Here's why millions of French people have voted for Marine Le Pen for president.
 
 
 
18:38 - France divided: How Macron's and Le Pen's voters are very different

Emmanuel Macron's and Marine Le Pen's voters couldn't be more different. They represent a divided France, both geographically, socially and most significantly in how they see the future of their country. The presidential runoff vote represents a clash of two very different France's.

Macron's and Le Pen's voters are geographically divided: Macron is popular in the cities and Le Pen in rural areas and small towns.

Geography aside, it's of course impossible to know for sure exactly who voted for whom. 
 
An Ipsos poll published on April 17th showed that 37 percent of labourers voted Le Pen, 32 percent of low-wage earners, and around a quarter of unemployed people. She also topped the votes for under 24s.
 
For Macron, a third of high-wage earners put his name in the ballot box, and 30 percent of highly educated voters. He topped the list for those earning €3,000 a month or more in salary. 
 
 
A deeply divided France: A look at Marine Le Pen's and Emmanuel Macron's voters

18:28 - More journalists than Parisians

Once these elections are over and the international journalists return home the population of Paris will no doubt drop significantly.

Here's a look at how many are queuing patiently to get into Emmanuel Macron's election night tonight at the Louvre.

18:12 - Le Pen and Macron's election nights

If you don't know Paris too well, this map gives you an idea of where each candidate is holding their election night.

Macron is at the Esplanade du Louvre in central Paris while Le Pen is holding a smaller gathering at the Chalet du Lac venue in the Bois de Vincennes.

Le Pen is expected at some point later tonight at the Chalet du Lac in the Bois de Vincennes eastern Paris where there is a huge presence of international media and police.

18:05: Le Pen versus Macron is the "perfect battle" for France

Even though many voters might not have been impressed by the two final candidates, especially those on the left, there's no doubting that Macron versus Le Pen is a "pure battle" as one French geographer put it.

That's because the pair are diametrically opposed on almost every issue.

Europe, immigration, Islam, identity to name just a few. This article spells out all the battle lines.

The 'perfect battle' Le Pen v Macron and their very different visions of France

The 'perfect battle': Le Pen v Macron and their very different visions for France

18:00: High security at Le Pen's election night

The Local's Elisabeth Beretta is down at the Bois de Vincennes in eastern Paris where Marine Le Pen will hold her election night gathering.

Elisabeth says security is tight and many foreign journalists and media who haven't got accreditation have gathered outside the "Chalet du Lac" venue.

French riot police are out in force at the event as they have been at Marine Le Pen's public meetings throughout the campaign.

17:50 - Crowds start to gather at the Louvre 

The Local's Oliver Gee is at the Esplanade du Louvre where Emmanuel Macron will hope to give a victory speech to crowds tonight.

Here's what he says is happening down there: 

At the Esplanade du Louvre the crowd is beginning to switch from curious tourists to French people who are eager to see the result at 8pm. 

The big screens have finally been switched on, and it's here that we can expect the face of France's next president to be broadcast. 

Remember, it's here near the iconic Louvre that Macron is scheduled to speak at around 10pm.

However not everyone at the scene right now are Macron supporters:

Jean-Baptiste, 27, artisan: 

"I didn't vote because I don't have the same objectives as either of the candidates. Sure, there are a lot of people who are scared of Le Pen, or worried about Macron, but honestly, for me, I'm not scared and I don't care either way. 

"Whoever wins, I don't think it will make much of a difference for me."

With him was Erwan, a 20-year-old student from Arles in southern France. 

"I voted blank because no candidates represented for me," he told The Local.  "I couldn't give my vote to either of them."

Meanwhile, Omar Badis, a 27-year-old singer who is of Tunisian origin but was born in France, is strongly against Le Pen. 

"Put yourself in my place, people like me wouldn't be able to live normal lives here . They say we are free in France - that it's all liberté égalité fraternité - but that's simply not true."

17:30 - France investigating Macron hack, AFP reports

Paris prosecutors are investigating the hacking attack on presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron's campaign that led to
thousands of files being leaked online, a source close to the case said Sunday.

The source said the probe was opened on Friday, the same day as the flood of documents were posted on the internet ahead of Sunday's run-off vote.

17:25 - Could reluctant Macron voters head to the polls after 5pm?

Disgruntled French voters urged to stay away from polling stations until 5pm

Perhaps there's a reason for the lower turnout at 5pm compared to the first round.

A petition urging the French to vote late on Sunday gathered tens of thousands of signatures this week.
It is possible to block Marine Le Pen without supporting Emmanuel Macron, at least that's according to a petition that gained traction in France this week. 
 
The petition, set up by a group called "Entends Mavoix" ("Hear my voice"), has attracted over 50,000 supporters in its call for citizens to vote after 5pm in the second round of the presidential election on Sunday. 
 
France's Ministry of the Interior publishes participation reports at midday and at 5pm, meaning the fed up voters who vote late will be noticeably absent from the figure when published at 5pm - a move that they hope will let Macron know that all those who voted after were not voting for him but rather against Le Pen.
 
"This text is neither a call to vote for Macron, nor to abstain. It's an offer for those who decided to vote against the National Front to be heard, and for their voice to be counted and made public," the petition reads.

17:15 - Voter turnout at 5pm lowest since 1981

The turnout at 5pm on Sunday stood at 65.3 percent on Sunday, that reflects the lowest turnout at that time since the 1981 election.

BFM TV are no predicting the final turnout will be 74 percent. That is far below the 2012 of 80 percent.

What does it mean? A low turn out is thought to help Le Pen's chances, but given the lead in the polls, Macron will still be expected to win if 74 percent of the country votes.

It may however restrict the winning margin. Given the latest polls suggested he had a twenty point lead, any score less than 60 percent for Macron will be seen as a kind of defeat. 

17:00: BREAKING: Turnout lower than in first round and compared to 2012

The latest figure on voter participation shows that turnout is well down on two weeks ago.

The figure given by the ministry of interior is 65.3 percent compared to 69.4 percent in the first round. In the second round of the 2012 election between François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy the turnout was up at 71.9 percent by 5pm.

It needs to be pointed out that normally turnout goes up in the second round of the vote.

16: 55 - What an unpredictable and unprecedented French election campaign it was.

We have pulled together 14 of the most standout, crucial, shock or just bizarre moments of the 2017 French election campaign.

From Melenchon's hologram, Fillon's "fake jobs", Macron's screaming and Le Pen's meltdown in the debate, here is a look back at the last few months.

The 14 standout moments of the historic French presidential election campaign

14 standout moments of the historic 2017 French presidential election campaign

16:47 - "What is France?" according to Le Pen and Macron

Our reporter Rose Trigg studied the speeches and interviews of Macron and Le Pen to look at how the pair have a very different idea of France.

While Le Pen says "France is full" and "France is a university for jihadists"... Macron says "France is... a country where a person who fights for their life and for their values should have a resident's permit"

Click below to read the full article 

What is France? - How Le Pen and Macron see their country differently

'What is France?': How Le Pen and Macron see their country very differently

16:40 - Security still a concern for some Parisians

At the square outside the Louvre some Macron supporters have come along to see how preparations are going, but they're wary of turning up tonight. "We're not sure about coming here, that it's going to be safe with such a big gathering" Nicolas Dengreville, 42, human resources manager told The Local.
 
A Macron voter from the first round, Dengreville is optimistic about a Macron presidency.
 
"If Macron wins we're hoping for fraternity, a more open, more humane France. A revival of France's values."
And if Le Pen wins? "We'll move to Belgium" says Dengreville.
16:34 - The Louvre awaits Emmanuel Macron

The Local's Oliver Gee is down at the Esplanade du Louvre where Macron will hope to give his victorious speech to his supporters later.

Here's a quick video from Oliver, describing the scene where security personnel and the media are massed in equal numbers.

16:25 - Macron and Le Pen in the Paris bunkers

BFM TV report that Macron is locked inside his campaign HQ in the 15th arrondissement of Paris onthe capital's left bank. While TV images also show Marine Le Pen's cortege heading to her own HQ on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré - the same street as the Elysée Palace.

It's in their headquarters that both candidates will be preparing their victory/concession speeches and watch the result at 8pm.

16:20 - This is what's it all about today

This is the choice facing France today.

16:15 - What about the celebrations?

In 2012 thousands thronged into Place de la Bastille to celebrate François Hollande becoming the first Socialist president to be elected since 1988.

But it's unsure whether there will be such a spontaneous public outpouring of joy and emotion in Paris on Sunday, regardless of the result. 

Le Pen plans to celebrate at the Bois de Vincennes to the east of Paris, whether she wins or not. Although the media will be asked to leave at 10pm.

Macron is set to celebrate in the iconic Esplanade du Louvre where the pyramids are if he becomes president. 

Macron is expected at the Esplanade du Louvre to speak to his supporters at 10pm if he wins. He is currently locked away in his campaign headquarters in the 15th arrondissement of Paris.

16:10 - How is the result announced?

The crucial result will be announced once again at 8pm, when the image of the next president of France will be shown on TV screens, prompting either wild celebrations or groans of despair among the public.

The photo below shows the moment François Hollande's face was broadcast when he won in 2012.

The result is based on the votes counted in 250 designated polling stations around the country that are considered to be have an accurate cross section of French voters. Remember polling stations around the country close at 7pm apart from in the big cities.

Hence the initial percentages given at 8pm can change slightly as the rest of the votes are counted. 

But as the first round results showed the initial estimate is pretty accurate.

However these days with social media and foreign media who don't stick to the strict rules it's hard to keep the results under wraps until 8pm. 

The French public are told to be wary of the unofficial results and rumours spreading around on the election weekend. 

The "official" final figures won't be announced until May 11th.

15:54 - What about the hack attack on Macron?

The media blackout here in France covering Saturday and Sunday has prevented French media from covering the giant hacking of Emmanuel Macron's En Marche! team.

Social media has been going wild about it, although it appears the hashtag #Macronleaks has been dominated by pro-Donald Trump tweeters in America, rather than French voters.

The fact the hack has come so late in the day, plus the fact it was almost expected in France, not to mention the meant blackout has meant whatever was in the leaked documents have not been widely circulated, means it will likely have little impact on Sunday's vote.

If you want more information on it though. This article in the New York Times is a good source. 

15:46 - Why winning tonight could be the easy part for both candidates

Remember that whoever wins tonight might become president, but in reality whatever power they can yield will be decided in the legislative elections in June.

Here French political analyst Paul Smith tells The Local why winning the presidency could be a poisoned chalice, not least for frontrunner Emmanuel Macron.

"Macron has to face the prospect that while he might get elected by himself, he cannot govern alone and no-one can predict how his pop-up party will fare amid the rough and tumble of a general election campaign," says Smith.

He adds: "It is almost impossible to imagine a president elected without a majority in the assembly. It's just as hard to imagine any other party being willing to join the FN in a coalition."

15:40 - French astronaut urges voters to go to polls from space

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet has taken a break from tweeting breathtaking photos of France to urge voters to go to the polls. Pesquet says he has organised a proxy vote as have tens of thousands of Parisians, who have gone away fro  the weekend.

"There's no excuse," Pesquet says.

15:26 - Abstainers in the 19th arrondissement of Paris

The Local's Elisabeth Beretta has been out in the 19th arrondissement of Paris which voted for leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon inthe first round. Remember over Two thirds of Melenchon's followers said they would cast a blank ballot or abstain in the second round.

However some 50 percent of his voters said they would back Macron, polls say.

Macron will be hoping they stick to their word.

"Most votes I have spoken to today said they will vote, but not all, " says Elisabeth Beretta. "Some were still undecided and some were casting blank ballots."

15:15 - And what about the abstention rate?

There have been plenty of arguments between friends and families this week, mainly those on the left over the question of abstaining.

This week The Local spoke to many voters, who had backed Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first round, who told us they wouldn't be voting in the second round.

For them the free-market former banker Emmanuel Macron is as bad as the far right Marine Le Pen.

One told us: "I won't be an accomplice to this disaster." 

Participation figures will be released again at 5pm.

The 12 pm figure was around 28.2 percent, around the same as the first round although its important to note, French presidential elections normally see an increase in turn out in the second round.

Most analysts expect the abstention rate to be up from the first round (22 percent), but not about 30 percent.

'France's defiant abstainers: I won't be an accomplice to this disaster'

France's defiant abstainers: 'I won't be an accomplice to this disaster'

15:00 - Big queues of French voters in London and Montreal

No chance of a low turn out among expat French voters in London or Montreal where like two weeks in the first round, voters have been queuing around the block to cast their ballots.

Figures for the first round showed French expat voters around the world voted massively in favour of Emmanuel Macron.

These pics below from AFP show voters first in Montreal and then in London.

(Montreal on May 7th)

(London May 7th)

14:55 - Preparations continue in the rain at the Louvre

Emmanuel Macron's supporters will gather at the Louvre later where they hope to see his face projected on the big screen at 8pm, when as is the tradition in FRance, the image of the winning candidate is broadcast to the nation.

Our reporter Rose Trigg has been down to the Louvre where preparations are taking place in the rain.

14:45 - What's all this about again?

Just as a timely reminder, today's vote is all about France chooses a new president. But what can the president actually do apart from fire nuclear weapons and cut ribbons?

Can a president really take France out of the EU, as Marine Le Pen wants?

Here's a look at the powers and the perks that come with the top job in France.

French election: What can the president actually do?

French election: What can the president actually do?

14:35. Louvre evacuation 'just a precaution'

The square outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, where French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron plans a victory party if elected, was evacuated on Sunday following a security alert, a police source said.
   
The source gave no details on the nature of the scare, saying the area was cordoned off and searched by a police team "simply to banish any doubts". 
 
The police wrote on Twitter that the evacuation was "just precautionary veifications".
   
The Louvre is situated on the banks of the Seine river in the heart of Paris.
 
 
14:20. An historic vote
 
In case you're still catching up, this is an historic vote for France. Here's why, from the AFP. 
 
Whoever wins Sunday's vote it is set to cause profound change for France, the world's sixth-biggest economy, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a global military power.
   
It is the first time neither of the country's traditional parties has a candidate in the final round of the presidential election under the modern French republic, founded in 1958.
  
Macron would be France's youngest-ever president and was a virtual unknown before his two-year stint as economy minister, the launchpad for his presidential bid.
 
Macron vs Le Pen: A look at whose side everyone is on (and who is on the fence)
 
"France is not a closed country. We are in Europe and in the world," Macron said in an acrimonious face-to-face debate with Le Pen on Wednesday.

13:53. Security alert at the Louvre museum

The courtyard around the Louvre museum in central Paris has been evacuated due to a "security alert".

Early reports suggested that police found a "suspicious package" in the area, although further details remain unclear. 

The location marks where Macron will celebrate the election result tonight - at the Esplanade du Louvre - pictured below. 

Marine Le Pen will celebrate a win or a loss at the Bois de Vincennes to the east of the city. 

More information on tonight's election celebrations here

This is where Emmanuel Macron hopes to celebrate his election win on Sunday night

13.45: More on the participation rate

Click here for an in-depth look look at the participation results that came in at midday, which showed that 28.23 percent of French people had voted.

This midday rate is lower than previous elections, which saw 30.66 percent voting by midday in 2012 and 34.11 percent at the same time in 2007. 

But Sunday's rate was only slightly down on the first round rate of 28.54 percent (from two weeks ago).

The fact that hardly anything has changed in two weeks this year suggests that the mass abstention fears may amount to nothing, news that will no doubt calm Macron's nerves. 

The next figure will be released at 5pm. 

13.05: Where did the candidates vote?

Macron cast his ballot this morning at a polling station in Le Touquet, northern France, joined by his wife Brigitte Trogneux (pictured below, left).
 
 
Macron's relationship with his wife, his former high school teacher, has been a head-turner, with a great deal of intrigue surrounding the 25-year gap between the pair. 
 

Meanwhile Marine Le Pen voted at her stronghold of Hénin-Beaumont in the north of France.

She was greeted by members of feminist group Femen who unfurled an anti-Le Pen banner.

Elsewhere, Outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande, who decided in December against seeking re-election, cast his ballot in his former electoral fiefdom of Tulle, in central France.

Hollande, who plucked Macron from virtual obscurity to name him economy minister in 2014, said voting "is always an important, significant act, heavy with consequences".
 
12.30pm: Welcome to our live blog
 
Election day is finally here. The polling stations opened at 8am today and will close at 7pm (or 8pm in the big cities). 
 
We're going to keep you covered throughout the whole day here on this live blog, and we will be posting content on our Facebook page (follow here), including live videos and photos.
 
Join the discussions in the comment sections below and we may use your quotes in a story.  
 
If you use Twitter, be sure to keep an eye on The Local, and our journalists Ben McPartland and Oliver Gee who will both be covering the day.
 
In the mean time, here are some useful links to get you up to speed with exactly what's happening on this historic day - in which France will either get its first female president (Marine Le Pen) or its youngest president in modern history (39-year-old Emmanuel Macron).
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