French overseas territories and French citizens living abroad began voting Saturday in the final round of the French presidential election, facing a choice between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
France’s official campaigning period ended Friday night at midnight Paris time, signaling the start of a French media blackout on election coverage. French law bans reporting on either candidate until polls close at 8pm Sunday.
Voting started in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Canada at noon Paris time and one hour later in French Guiana, in South America. The 1.3 million French citizens living abroad also began voting Saturday. In metropolitan France, voters will start casting their ballots on Sunday at 8am.
Officials have made several changes to voting regulations to adjust to the state of emergency in force in France since attacks in Paris that killed 130 people in November 2015. Polls will remain open until 7pm in France Sunday — one hour later than during previous presidential elections — and until 8pm in some large cities including the capital. Security has been reinforced following an April 20 attack on Paris’s famed Champs-Élysées boulevard that killed one police officer.
French mayors have faced a challenge finding enough people to count votes Sunday. Vote counters usually come from France’s two major parties, the Socialists and Les Républicains. But with neither party having made it to the final round, some mayors have been forced to hire city officials for the job.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2017-05-06