Parisians began voting on Sunday (April 24) in an election that will decide whether pro-European Union, centrist President Emmanuel Macron keeps his job or is unseated by far-right Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen in what would amount to a political earthquake.
Opinion polls in recent days gave Macron a solid and slightly growing lead as analysts said Le Pen – despite her efforts to soften her image and tone down some of her National Rally party’s policies – remained unpalatable for many.
But a surprise Le Pen victory could not be ruled out, given the high numbers of voters who were undecided or not sure if they would vote at all in the presidential runoff.
“There could always be a surprise, since we don’t know what the abstention rate is, we don’t how a certain number of people will vote,” Parisian Emmanuelle said.
With polls showing neither candidate able to count on enough committed supporters, much will depend on a cohort of voters who are weighing up anxiety about the implications of a far-right presidency against anger at Macron’s record since his 2017 election.
If Le Pen does win, it would likely carry the same sense of stunning political upheaval as the British vote to leave the European Union or the U.S. election of Donald Trump in 2016.
Polls opened at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) and will close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT). Initial projections by pollsters are expected as soon as polls close.