Andrew Neil on why Frances low turnout today could be a crunch point for Macron

French Muslims fear discrimination if Marine Le Pen is elected

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Voters in France went to the polls on Sunday in an election that will decide whether pro-European Union, centrist President Mr Macron keeps his job or is unseated by far-right eurosceptic Marine Le Pen. Recent opinion polls gave the French president a solid, slightly growing lead with analysts saying Ms Le Pen remained unpalatable for many.

However, a surprise victory by Ms Le Pen could not be ruled out as polls show neither candidate has been able to count on enough core supporters to win.

Mr Neil tweeted: “As of Noon 26.4% of France’s eligible voters have voted in presidential election, round 2.

“Up on 25.4% round 1 but 2 percentage points lower than the 28.2% in 2017.
“Consensus that Macron inevitable winner may hamper turnout.”

Three hours ahead of the end of voting, 63.23 percent of voters had cast their ballots.

This was two points down on 2017 when final turnout was already at its lowest point for almost half a century.

In 2017, about 25 percent of voters abstained in what was the lowest turnout ever recorded in a French presidential election final since 1969.

Analysts say that a low turnout adds to uncertainty surrounding the final result.

Voting started at 8am French time and will end at 8pm CET when the first result projections are expected.


Although Mr Macron is favourite to win, the EU is “jittery”, according to BBC Europe editor Katya Adler.

She shared a story in French daily Le Monde on Friday where the leaders of Spain, Germany and Portugal pleaded wth French voters to support Mr Macron.

Antonio Costa, Pedro Sanchez and Olaf Scholz wrote: “The choice facing the French people is crucial for France and for all of us in Europe.

“It is the choice between a Democratic candidate, who believes that France is stronger in a powerful and autonomous European Union, and a far-right candidate, who openly sides with those who attack our freedom and our democracy.”

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Ms Le Pen has said she would slash French contributions to the EU budget, renegotiate the Schengen agreement and bring back checks on goods entering France from other EU states.

She would seek to re-establish the primacy of French over EU law and wants the bloc to become a loose association of cooperating sovereign countries.

Mr Macron, 44, has warned of civil war if Ms Le Pen is elected and has called on democrats of all stripes to back him.

Ms Le Pen, 53, focused her campaign on the rising cost of living which many French people say has worsened with the surge in global energy prices.

She also targeted Mr Macron’s abrasive leadership style, which she says shows an elitist contempt for ordinary people.

Mr Macron plans to address supporters from the foot of the Eiffel Tower after the result.

If she wins, Ms Le Pen is planning to parade through Paris in a car at the head of the 13 National Front buses that have toured France during the campaign.

But if Mr Macron prevails he will face a difficult second term with protests likely over his plan to continue pro-business reforms, including raising the retirement age from 62 to 65.

Should Ms Le Pen win, she would seek to make radical changes to France’s domestic and international policies.

There are warnings street protests could start immediately.Shockwaves would be felt across Europe and beyond.

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