mostlycloudy
Thursday June 22nd, 2017 6:14PM

Tense France chooses new president, deciding Europe's fate

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PARIS (AP) — French voters decided Sunday whether to back pro-business independent Emmanuel Macron or far-right populist Marine Le Pen as their next president, casting ballots in an unusually tense and important presidential election that also could decide Europe's future.

With Macron the pollsters' favorite, voting stations opened across mainland France at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) under the watch of 50,000 security forces guarding against extremist attacks. Polling agency projections and initial official results are expected as soon as the final stations close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT.)

A security alert prompted the evacuation Sunday of the courtyard outside the Louvre museum where Macron had planned to celebrate election night. Campaign spokeswoman Pauline Calmes told The Associated Press that the Esplanade du Louvre, in downtown Paris, was evacuated as a precaution.

Calmes did not specify the nature of the threat, but says police ordered the evacuation. The Louvre already was being heavily guarded after an extremist attacker targeted soldiers near the museum during the presidential campaign.

France's Interior Ministry said voter turnout at midday was running slightly lower than during the last presidential runoff in 2012. The ministry said 28 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots, compared with a half-day tally of 31 percent five years ago.

Commentators think a low turnout would benefit Le Pen, whose supporters are seen as more committed and therefore more likely to show up to vote.

Macron voted in the seaside resort of Le Touquet in northern France alongside his wife, Brigitte Macron. Le Pen cast her ballot just a hundred kilometers away in Henin-Beaumont, a small town controlled by her National Front party.

Macron, 39, a former Socialist economy minister and one-time banker who ran as an independent, was all smiles and petted a black dog as he stepped out of his vacation home. For security reasons, he was driven to his polling station nearby.

Le Pen, 48, was able to vote without any incident after feminist activists were briefly detained a couple of hours earlier Sunday for hanging a big anti-Le Pen banner from a church in the northern town.

Meanwhile, police and soldiers worked to secure the symbolic Paris venues where the next president will celebrate victory.

Macron picked the dignified internal courtyard of the renowned palace-turned-museum as the location for his celebration party if he wins. If Le Pen wins, she plans to celebrate at the Chalet du Lac in the Bois de Vincennes, a vast park on Paris' eastern edge.

The most closely watched and unpredictable French presidential campaign in recent memory ended with a hacking attack and document leak targeting Macron on Friday night. France's government cybersecurity agency, ANSSI, is investigating the hack, which Macron's team says was aimed at destabilizing the vote.

France's election campaign commission said Saturday that "a significant amount of data" — and some fake information — was leaked on social networks following the hacking attack on Macron. The leaked documents appeared largely mundane, and the perpetrators remain unknown.

The fate of the European Union may hang in the balance as France's 47 million voters decide whether to risk handing the presidency to Le Pen, who dreams of quitting the bloc and its common currency, or to play it safer with Macron, an unabashed pro-European who wants to strengthen the EU.

Global financial markets and France's neighbors are watching carefully. A "Frexit" would be far more devastating than Britain's departure, since France is the second-biggest economy to use the euro. The country also is a central pillar of the EU and its mission of keeping post-war peace via trade and open borders.

The vote will help gauge the strength of global populism after the victories last year of a referendum to take Britain out of the EU and Donald Trump's U.S. presidential campaign. In France, it is a test of whether voters are ready to overlook the racist and anti-Semitic past of Le Pen's National Front party.

Le Pen has broadened the party's appeal by tapping into — and fueling — anger at globalization and fears associated with immigration and Islamic extremism. Macron has argued that France must rethink its labor laws to better compete globally and appealed for unity and tolerance that Le Pen called naive.

Either candidate would lead France into uncharted territory, since neither comes from the mainstream parties that dominate parliament and have run the country for decades. The winner will have to try to build a parliamentary majority in elections next month to make major changes.___

John Leicester in Paris, Alex Turnbull in Henin-Beaumont and Chris den Hond in Le Touquet contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
ADB hoping US will keep support for regional lender, growth
The head of the Asian Development Bank says he is hoping the U.S. will step up and support the regional lender despite President Donald Trump's avowed preference for bilateral cooperation
2:09AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Tense France chooses new president, deciding Europe's fate
Voters across France are casting ballots in a presidential election runoff that could decide Europe's future, choosing between progressive Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen
2:06AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Experts: Convicting ex-officer in teen's death will be tough
Legal experts say authorities who've charged a white suburban Dallas police officer with murder in a black teenager's death face a tough task in getting a conviction
1:49AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Nepal man, 85, dies trying to become oldest Everest climber
Officials say an 85-year-old Nepali has died while attempting to scale Mount Everest to regain his title as the oldest person to climb the world's highest peak.
12:03AM ( 2 hours ago )
Mud in your eye: Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby in slop
Always Dreaming splashed through the slop to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 3/4 lengths, giving trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez their second victories in the race but their first together
11:35PM ( 2 hours ago )
San Diego police killed boy, 15, in school parking lot
San Diego police have shot and killed a 15-year-old boy they say pulled a gun on them in a high school parking lot
10:30PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP National News
'Oh, the humanity!' Hindenburg anniversary, broadcast marked
Hundreds of people have gathered at a military base in New Jersey to mark the 80th anniversary of when the German airship Hindenburg burst into flames
9:24PM ( 5 hours ago )
US bobsledder Steven Holcomb, 37, found dead
US Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb, a three-time medalist, has been found dead
8:57PM ( 5 hours ago )
Nigeria says 82 Chibok girls free in Boko Haram exchange
82 Chibok schoolgirls freed 3 years after Boko Haram mass abduction in exchange for suspects
8:35PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
French cybersecurity agency to probe Macron hacking attack
France's election campaign commission says "a significant amount of data" from the campaign of centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been leaked on social networks following a hacking attack
5:51PM ( 8 hours ago )
The Latest: French cybersecurity agency to probe Macron hack
A French government official says the state cybersecurity agency will investigate a hacking attack against presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron
2:36PM ( 11 hours ago )
The Latest: French in Quebec turn out in droves to vote
French natives are turning out in droves in the Canadian province of Quebec to cast a ballot in France's presidential runoff
2:15PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Elections
French campaign watchdog examines election-eve Macron leak
France's election campaign watchdog is investigating a hacking attack and document leak targeting presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron that his political movement calls a bid to disrupt tense vote
6:21AM ( 20 hours ago )
Lawyer-turned-liberal leader eyes South Korean presidency
Human rights lawyer-turned-liberal leader close to winning Tuesday's presidential election in South Korea
12:51AM ( 1 day ago )
As bitter French campaign ends, Macron's team hit by hack
The campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron said it suffered a "massive and coordinated" hacking attack and document leak that it called a bid to destabilize Sunday's presidential runoff
11:32PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Experts: Convicting ex-officer in teen's death will be tough
Legal experts say authorities who've charged a white suburban Dallas police officer with murder in a black teenager's death face a tough task in getting a conviction
1:49AM ( 38 minutes ago )
'Canelo' Alvarez dominates Chavez Jr., Golovkin next up
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez dominated a grudge against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., winning a unanimous decision in a fight that left no doubt who is the top active Mexican boxer
1:27AM ( 1 hour ago )
Kershaw, Bellinger lead Dodgers to 10-2 win over Padres
Clayton Kershaw pitched into the eighth inning, rookie Cody Bellinger hit a grand slam and drove in five runs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 10-2
1:17AM ( 1 hour ago )
Durant scores 38 points, Warriors beat Jazz to take 3-0 lead
Kevin Durant had 38 points and 13 rebounds and the Golden State Warriors beat the Utah Jazz 102-91 to take a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series
12:42AM ( 1 hour ago )
S. Koreans want new leader to create jobs minus corruption
South Koreans expect the next president to create jobs and end the cozy ties between big family-run businesses and the government that often lead to corruption
12:32AM ( 1 hour ago )