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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Sunday, May 7, 2017
France SIDES with Germany AGAIN. Elects Macron.
Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, has won the French presidential election, following a hard-fought battle with far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, according to French polling agencies.
In a contest that put the passionately pro-European Macron against Le Pen, who promised a “Frexit” referendum should she win the election, Macron garnered 65.5 percent of the vote, according to the Kantar exit poll,
On Sunday, voters across France flooded to the ballot box to choose a new president in an unusually tense and important election.
The polls opened in mainland France at 8 a.m. local time under the watch of 50,000 security forces guarding against possible extremist attacks. Polling agency projections and initial official results are expected as soon as the final stations close at 8 p.m.
Voter turnout in the runoff election is above 65 percent in late afternoon, a sharp drop of more than 6 percent compared to the last presidential vote. The Interior Ministry announced the turnout had reached 65.3 percent, compared to 71.96 percent in the second round of presidential voting in 2012.
With voting in France's presidential election still under way, Swiss and Belgian news organizations are reporting election-day polls suggesting that voters are backing Macron by a strong margin over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
The race has been unpredictable and it is too early to say who is winning the election, as millions of votes have yet to be cast.
Swiss newspaper La Tribune de Geneve and Belgium's RTBF and Le Soir all cited multiple polls. Le Soir and La Tribune de Geneve said the polls were conducted by French polling agencies surveying people who had already voted. They didn't release further details of the polls' methodology, making it impossible to determine how reliable they are.
Publishing polls is banned in France itself until voting ends Sunday evening.
Pre-election polls had suggested Macron was the favorite by a large margin, leading Le Pen by about 60 percent to 40 percent. The election-day polls suggested that a significant number of voters were casting blank or spoiled ballots.
Police had to evacuate the Louvre courtyard early Sunday because of a suspicious bag but later reopened it. Eric Kadio told the Associated Press he came to the park near the Louvre in hopes of seeing Macron, who's expected to speak to supporters from the Louvre courtyard after election results come in.
"France has an efficient security operation," he told the AP. "I am not afraid. Bomb scares are frequent and each time they get things under control."
Earlier in the day, 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.
The vote Sunday 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 Le Pen’s sketchy history.
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. Voting began Saturday in overseas territories, from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, an archipelago near Newfoundland, to French Guiana and the French West Indies and beyond. French citizens also turned out in droves to vote in the Canadian province of Quebec.
Fears of outside meddling hung over the race after 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 Macron team asked the campaign oversight commission to bring in France’s top cybersecurity agency ANSSI to study the hack, a government official told the AP.
ANSSI can only be called in to investigate cyberattacks that are "massive and sophisticated" — and the Macron hack appears to fit the bill, the official said.
The documents leaked Friday were widely circulated on far-right sites based in the United States. Experts dissecting the data said they spotted a couple of Russian names in the dump.
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.