France election: polls open as Macron and Le Pen battle for presidency

Emmanuel Macron goes into the election with a reasonable lead in polls over Marine Le Pen, after a fractious campaign

Kim Willsher

France votes on Sunday in presidential elections between president Emmanuel Macron and challenger Marine Le Pen. Photograph: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

The polls have opened in mainland France for the second round of the presidential election that will see voters choose to give Emmanuel Macron another five years in office or elect Marine Le Pen.

Macron is favourite to win but any second term will be determined by whether he finishes with a convincing victory. Both he and Le Pen need to have convinced the almost 50% of voters who did not choose either of them in the first round ballot two weeks ago

The level of abstention and the number of people protest voting by casting a blank ballot, as many supporters of “third man” the radical left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon have promised, could affect the result.

The polling stations close at 7pm this evening in most of mainland France and 8pm in major towns and cities. An estimation of the result based on the count from a number of specific polling stations chosen as representative of France will be announced at 8pm. While it is only an estimation it is usually a reliable indication of who has won unless it is too close to call and within a margin of error.

Because of the time difference, those France’s overseas territories began voting on Saturday.

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