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The ballot opens in France in the second round between Macron and Le Pen: NPR

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Presidential campaign posters of French President and centrist re-election candidate Emmanuel Macron, left, and far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, in Salies de Béarn, southwestern France, on Saturday 23 April 2022.

Bob Edme/AP

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Bob Edme/AP


Presidential campaign posters of French President and centrist re-election candidate Emmanuel Macron, left, and far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, in Salies de Béarn, southwestern France, on Saturday 23 April 2022.

Bob Edme/AP

PARIS — France began voting in a runoff presidential election on Sunday in a race between incumbent President Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen.

Macron is in pole position to be re-elected for a second five-year term in the country’s presidential run-off, but his lead over Le Pen hinges on one major uncertainty: voters who may decide to stay home.

A victory for Macron in this vote – which could have profound implications for the future direction of Europe and Western efforts to stop the war in Ukraine – would make him the first French president in 20 years to win a second term. .

All opinion polls in recent days point to a win for the pro-European centrist, 44 – but the margin over his 53-year-old nationalist rival varies widely, from 6 to 15 percentage points, according to the poll. Polls are also predicting a possibly record number of people who will vote blank or not vote at all.

The two candidates are trying to court the 7.7 million votes of a left-wing candidate who was defeated in the first round. Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. on Sunday and close at 7 p.m. in most places, except for major cities that chose to keep polls open until 8 p.m.

For many who voted for left-wing candidates in the first round on April 10, this runoff presents an unpleasant choice between a nationalist in Le Pen and a president who some say veered right in his first term. . The outcome could depend on the decision of leftist voters: between backing Macron or abstaining and letting him fend for himself against Le Pen.

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