Vastavam web: French voters went to the polls yesterday to pick a new president, choosing between young centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a watershed election for the country and Europe.Polling day follows an unprecedented campaign marked by scandal, repeated surprises and a last-minute hacking attack on Macron, a 39-year-old who has never held elected office.Le Pen, 48, has portrayed the ballot as a contest between the “globalists” represented by her rival — those in favour of open trade, immigration and shared sovereignty versus the “nationalists” who defend strong borders and national identities.
Voting began at 0600 GMT in 66,546 polling stations. Most will close at 1700 GMT, except those in big cities which will stay open an hour longer.”The political choice the French people are going to make is clear,” Le Pen said in her opening remarks during an often vicious debate between the pair on Wednesday night.The last polling showed Macron — winner of last month’s election first round with a widening lead of around 62 per cent to 38 per cent before the hacking revelations on Friday evening. A campaigning blackout entered into force shortly after.France’s election authority said publishing the documents could be a criminal offence, a warning heeded by traditional media organisations but flouted by Macron’s opponents and far-right activists online.
“We knew that there were these risks during the presidential campaign because it happened elsewhere. Nothing will go without a response,” French President Francois Hollande told AFP on Saturday.