France begins voting in second round of presidential election

French voters on Sunday to choose their next president after an unpredictable campaign that has divided the country, the media reported. "We are in Europe and in the world", Macron said during Wednesday's debate.

It is unclear whether the leaked documents, which some experts say may be connected to hackers linked to Russian Federation, will affect the outcome of the election Sunday between Le Pen, the far-right candidate from the National Front, and Macron, an independent centrist.

French presidential election candidates Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron pose prior to the start of a live broadcast face-to-face debate. Campaign spokeswoman Pauline Calmes told The Associated Press that the Esplanade du Louvre, in downtown Paris, was evacuated as a precaution.

The political party of Macron En Marche!

The presidential election will be followed by legislative elections on 11 and 18 June.

The candidates' polar-opposite visions presented the 47 million registered voters with the starkest possible choice. One was the private Lycee Francais Charles de Gaulle school.

The first French territory to vote Saturday was Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, an archipelago near Newfoundland, where voters came dressed in scarves and jackets to ward off the chilly weather. Le Pen's projected 35 percent score was lower than her polling numbers earlier in the campaign, and dashed her hopes that the populist wave which swept Donald Trump into the White House would also carry her to France's presidential Elysee Palace. "So it's easy for me", voter Chantal Giddens said.

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron was considered the front-runner going into the runoff.

Le Pen upstaged Macron by making a surprise whirlwind visit to the workers as Macron was meeting unions to discuss the plant's future.

Marine Le Pen cast her vote in the former coalmining town - and National Front stronghold - of Henin-Beaumont, also in the north of France. Le Pen finished second with 21.30 percent.

The last opinion poll showed Macron - victor of last month's election first round - with a widening lead of around 62 percent to 38 percent before the hacking revelations on Friday evening.

French centrist Emmanuel Macron has already achieved an vast task: A former outsider with little political experience, he is now the front-runner in France's presidential race, banking on a promise to revive the country through radical pro-business measures and pro-European policies.

Global financial markets and France's neighbors are watching carefully.

Voting stations have opened across France for the high-stakes presidential run-off between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

Macron quit the government in August 2016 to launch his presidential bid.

For security reasons, Macron was driven to his nearby polling station at Le Touquet City Hall and shook hands with a large crowd of supporters before he and his wife entered the building.

Le Pen immediately turned her focus to France's upcoming legislative elections in June, where Macron will need a working majority to govern effectively. "Nothing will be left without a response", French President Francois Hollande said.

Hollande voted Sunday morning in his political fiefdom of Tulle in southwestern France. Fifty-three percent appear more motivated to torpedo their less-favored candidate than elect the person they want.

Intelligence agencies in the United States said in January that Russian president Vladimir Putin had ordered hacking of Democratic campaign officials before last year's presidential election in a bid to boost the chances of Republican candidate Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

The turnout for the first round of the election was nearly 78%. At the end of last month, she announced that she had temporarily stepped down from her position as leader of the National Front.

Celebration sites have a huge symbolic power, and both candidates are trying to break with the past and the traditional left-right divide.

In a last-minute intervention, former US President Barack Obama backed the centrist candidate in a video tweeted by Macron on Thursday. While its diplomatic strength has faded, Macron could bring new energy to French foreign policy - and firebrand Le Pen would be sure to make France's voice heard in world affairs.

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