Centrist Macron faces far-rightist Le Pen in France’s presidential election

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On Saturday, France prepared to opt between centrist President Emmanuel Macron and the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to govern the country for the next term of five years, following a fiercely contested and polarizing election campaign.

Macron is the favourite for winning re-election in the second round of voting on Sunday, and there are signs that he has strengthened his advantage with a combative performance in the punctual election debate against a slightly defensive Le Pen this week.

But the president and his allies emphasized the fact that nothing is in the bag, with a high turnout crucial to avoid a shock in France comparable to the 2016 surveys that led to the Brexit in Great Britain and the election of Donald Trump in the United States.

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Polls in mainland France will open at 0600 GMT on Sunday and close 12 hours later, immediately followed by projections that usually predict the outcome with some degree of accuracy.

But voters in the French overseas territories, which extend around the globe and are home to nearly three million people, began voting earlier.

The first vote in the election was by a 90-year-old man on the small island of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon off the north shore of Canada.

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