Polls open in French Presidential election

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen

French voters have begun casting ballots for the presidential election in a tense first-round poll that is seen as a test for the spread of populism around the world.

More than 60,000 polling stations opened on Sunday for some 47 million eligible voters who will choose between 11 candidates in the most unpredictable election in generations.

Polls suggest far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist and former economy minister, were in the lead.

However, Conservative Francois Fillon, a former prime minister, appeared to be closing the gap, as was far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

France’s 10% unemployment rate, its struggling economy and security issues topped voters’ concerns.
Early voting began on Saturday in France’s overseas territories.

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