France To Pick New President In Historic Race

May 7, 2017

French voters cast their ballots Sunday, in a historic presidential election that’s reverberating around the globe and pitting two unconventional candidates against each other.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen faces centrist Emmanuel Macron after voters bucked France’s traditional two-party system in April’s first round of the election.

Le Pen — a Euro-skeptic — heads the National Front, a party once associated with racism and xenophobia. The pro-Europe and immigrant-friendly Macron has never held elected office and ran as an independent.

The outcome of the election could have a profound effect on the future of the European Union and globalization amid a wave of populism and protectionism.

Voting takes place two days after Macron’s campaign was hacked and thousands of his emails released. The move reminded observers of the hack on the Clinton campaign in the American election, which U.S. intelligence agencies concluded was orchestrated by Russia to benefit now President Trump.

Trump has expressed support for Le Pen, telling the Associated Press, “She’s the strongest on borders.” Former President Obama endorsed Macron in a video released Friday, saying Macron “has stood up for liberal values.”

France has a blackout on all campaigning and media coverage that began Friday.

Most polls close at 7 p.m. local time Sunday (1 p.m. ET), but remain open an hour later in Paris and other big cities. Polling companies release winner projections immediately afterward.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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