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French Presidential election: Voting underway in wide-open contest


Paris, May 7: Voting is underway in the final round of Frances presidential race on Sunday after a massive online hack of frontrunner Emmanuel Macrons campaign data delivered a final dramatic twist to the countrys most divisive election, media reports said.

Mainland France's 47 million voters began casting their ballots at about 70,000 polling stations across the nation at 8 am, the media reported.

French presidential election candidates Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron.

Estimates of the result, based on a representative count of actual votes cast, will be released as the last stations close at 8 pm Paris time.

Voting got underway in France's overseas territories and French embassies abroad on Saturday.

According to analysts, up to a quarter of the electorate is expected to abstain, with some supporters of the centre-right candidate Francois Fillon and the hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon, both defeated in the first round on April 23, saying they would not be voting for either Macron, a 39-year-old former banker and economy minister running as an independent centrist, or his far-right rival Marine Le Pen, 48.

Macron and Le Pen topped an 11-strong field, taking 24 per cent and 21 per cent of the vote respectively, media reports said.

While Macron has campaigned on a pro-Europe, pro-integration platform, Le Pen has suggested she would aim to take France out of the European Union, withdraw it from the NATO and forge closer ties with Russia.

The official results of Sunday's polls will be officially proclaimed by France's constitutional council on May 11, reports the BBC.

May 14 marks the end of outgoing President Francois Hollande's term and is the latest possible date for the inauguration and official transfer of power to his successor.

(With agencies inputs)

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