Peter Mccabe / AP
PARIS – Polls opened across France on Sunday for the first round of the country’s presidential election, where up to 48 million eligible voters will choose from 12 candidates.
President Emmanuel Macron is seeking another five-year term with a strong challenge from the far right.
The polls opened at. 8.00 Sunday and closes at. 19.00 (17.00 GMT) most places and an hour later in some major cities.
Unless someone gets more than half of the nationwide votes, there will be another and decisive round between the top two candidates on Sunday, April 24th.
Apart from Macron, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and the fiery left-wing zealot Jean-Luc Melenchon are among the prominent figures vying to take the Elysee presidential election.
Macron, a political centrist, for months looked like a shot on the road to becoming France’s first president in 20 years to win another term. But that scenario was blurred in the closing stages of the campaign as the pain of inflation and pump, food and energy prices roared back as dominant election themes for many low-income households. They could drive many voters Sunday into the arms of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, Macron’s political nemesis.
Macron hit Le Pen with a landslide to become France’s youngest president in 2017. The victory of the former banker – now 44 – was seen as a victory against populist, nationalist policies that came in the wake of Donald Trump’s election to the White House and Britain’s vote to leave the EU, both in 2016.
With populist Viktor Orban winning a fourth consecutive term as Hungarian prime minister days ago, eyes are now on France’s resurgent right-wing candidates – particularly National Rally leader Le Pen, who wants to ban Muslim headscarves in the streets and halal and kosher butchers. and drastic. reduce immigration from outside Europe. This election has the potential to reshape France’s post-war identity and indicate whether European populism is on the rise or in decline.
In the meantime, if Macron wins, it will be seen as a victory for the EU. Observers say a re-election to Macron would provide real likelihood of increased co-operation and investment in European security and defense – especially with a new pro-EU German government.
With warfare on the eastern edge of the EU, French voters will vote in a presidential election, the outcome of which will have international consequences. France is the second economy of the 27-member bloc, the only one with a veto from the UN Security Council and its only nuclear power. And while Russian President Vladimir Putin continues the war in Ukraine, French power will help shape Europe’s response.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has given Macron the chance to demonstrate his influence on the international stage and burn his pro-NATO credentials in election debates. Macron is the only frontrunner to support the alliance, while other candidates have differing views on France’s role in it. Melenchon is among those who want to give it up completely, saying it produces nothing but quarrels and instability.
Such a development would give a major blow to an alliance built to protect its members in the burgeoning Cold War 73 years ago.
Voting opens in 1st round of France’s presidential election: NPR
Source link Voting opens in 1st round of France’s presidential election: NPR