French overseas territories begin presidential voting

After the surprise of Britain's Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as USA president, just what kind of politician - and politics - France chooses will be of huge interest to many, not just those inside Europe.

Polls state that the top two contenders of the race are touted to be Macron and Le Pen, with the former leading by some points.

The French election comes as Frauke Petry's Alternative for Germany party is riven by internal dissent five months before German elections and after Dutch voters gave Geert Wilders's anti-EU Freedom Party 20 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament.

Less than two days after a gunman shot dead a policeman on the Champs-Elysées in an attack for which Islamic State claimed responsibility, France's 47 million registered voters - almost a quarter of whom are still undecided - go to the polls amid heightened security.

Political campaigning is banned beginning Saturday across France and online and several candidates canceled appearances Friday hours after the attack.

Security was a prominent issue after a wave of extremist attacks on French soil, including a gunman who killed a Paris police officer Thursday night before being shot dead by security forces.

Voters made their choices in the Atlantic Ocean territories of Saint Pierre and Miquelon as well as in French Guiana in South America, the Caribbean's Guadeloupe and elsewhere. French voters are casting ballots for their next president in an unusually close first-round election Sund.

Europe's largest population of ethnic Chinese live in France, with an estimate of 600,000 residents.

The election is the first in the history of France's 59-year-old Fifth Republic to take place under a state of emergency.

The first round will send two of 11 candidates into a run-off vote in two weeks' time to pick a new president for France, a core member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and the world's fifth largest economy.

However, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has accused Le Pen of trying to capitalise on the attack.

The far right, in the shape of Marine Le Pen, who is widely tipped to progress through the first round, has managed to link domestic attackers such as Karim Cheurfi, the Frenchman who carried out the attack against police on the Champs-Elysees, with the wider question of immigration, support for Syrian refugees and even the European Union. He has said that "we need Europe because Europe makes us bigger, because Europe makes us stronger".

Workers prepare booths at a polling station in Lyon, central France, Saturday, April 22, 2017.

"If it were to benefit someone, that would clearly be Marine Le Pen who has dominated this issue throughout the campaign, or Francois Fillon", said Adelaide Zulfikarpasic of the BVA polling institute. "I think the attacks have mobilized people".

Benoit Hamon is the mainstream left-wing Socialist Party nominee but polls suggest he has struggled to gain traction.

The presidential poll has consequences for the future of the European Union, for France's millions of Muslims and for world financial markets.

Macron, only 39, is seeking to become France's youngest-ever president and has campaigned on a strongly pro-EU and pro-business platform.

April 4, 2017: Firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon was found the most convincing performer by viewers of a televised debate among the 11 candidates, a snap poll showed, with Macron in second place.

President Francois Hollande has cast his vote in the first round of the French election in his political fiefdom of Tulle in Correze, southwestern France. Macron, a former economy minister, has framed himself as a bulwark against Trump's protectionism.

Recommended News

  • Egyptian-American woman freed in Egypt goes home on US military plane

    Egyptian-American woman freed in Egypt goes home on US military plane

    The Trump administration negotiated the release of a United States citizen who was held in an Egyptian prison for three years. The entire case was seen as an example of human rights abuses under the brutal rule of Sisi.
    Redknapp reacts to Villa loss in first match as Brum boss

    Redknapp reacts to Villa loss in first match as Brum boss

    But the white-hot atmosphere quickly returned inside an electric Villa Park and the two teams wrestled for control early on. The game had lacked chances before his introduction. "Five goals is quite special and of course it was a victor ".
    Ready to respond to US aggression: North Korea

    Ready to respond to US aggression: North Korea

    According to the Korea Herald , the aircraft carrier strike group will join the South Korean navy in a "massive maritime drill". The members of the Institute of Korean Cultural Studies and other history institutions lambasted Xi for "absurd remarks".
  • Debenhams (LON:DEB) Receives 'Hold' Rating From Brokers At Deutsche

    Debenhams (LON:DEB) Receives 'Hold' Rating From Brokers At Deutsche

    Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company. Shares of Howden Joinery Group Plc (LON:HWDN) traded up 1.9500% during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching GBX 407.0388.
    Bozak's OT goal gives Leafs 2-1 series lead over Caps

    Bozak's OT goal gives Leafs 2-1 series lead over Caps

    Across the hall, the Capitals have begun to hear the comparisons to the franchise's other playoff stumbles. After that, the Leafs gained momentum and motivation to take this series and dictate play.
    Marlins netted by Mariners

    Marlins netted by Mariners

    More and more, it looked like the Mariners were about to be no-hit for the first time since Philip Humber's flawless game in 2012. Brad Ziegler got through the eighth inning with the no-hitter intact despite a pair of tricky grounders that almost became hits.
  • United States  defies both letter, spirit of nuclear deal: Javad Zarif

    United States defies both letter, spirit of nuclear deal: Javad Zarif

    The JCPOA reduced economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for greater restrictions on its nuclear energy program. Meanwhile back in Washington , Congress is debating new sanctions on Iran related to its ballistic missile program.

    Conte puts trust in Aké instead of Terry

    Chelsea confirmed on their official website at the start of this week that the 36-year-old would leave the club when his contract expires in June.
    Grizzlies draw even with Spurs after stunning OT win in Game 4

    Grizzlies draw even with Spurs after stunning OT win in Game 4

    This is one of those shots you practice in the driveway as a kid, with the hopes that you get to show it off in an actual game. The Spurs struggled in Game 3 and coach Gregg Popovich benched some of his starters during the game to try and send a message.
  • Borussia Dortmund show courage in Monaco match

    Borussia Dortmund show courage in Monaco match

    Identified as Abdul Beset A, he arrived in Germany via Turkey in early 2016, the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement . There is so much more than football in this world. "Last evening we felt how it was like to be in a situation like this".
    Adityanath's UP govt downgrades security of Azam Khan, Dimple Yadav

    Adityanath's UP govt downgrades security of Azam Khan, Dimple Yadav

    Among those who totally lost their security is BSP national general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Satish Chandra Mishra. Similarly, the security cover extended to frmer UP Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan's security cover has been taken away.
    New Orleans Saints Player Will Smith's Killer Sentenced to 25 Years

    New Orleans Saints Player Will Smith's Killer Sentenced to 25 Years

    The former Saints star was said to have had a high blood-alcohol level, but prosecutors do not believe he provoked the shooting. His family and friends were in the courtroom Wednesday and some may be called to the stand Thursday to support Hayes.

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.