Candidates and Public Head to the Polls

UPDATED, PARIS –

As of 5pm local time, the current participation rate is 71.96%, as reported by Le Monde. 

After polls opened at 8am Sunday morning, the Ministry of the Interior reports that within the first four hours 30.66% of the population had voted in the 2nd tour of the election, an increase from the noon turnout of the 1st tour (28.29%) but a decrease from the 2007 result (34.11%). While it is anticipated that the overall voter turnout will exceed 80%, the prominent response of Front National leader Marine Le Pen against both her former competitors may prove influential on both the “White Vote” and abstention rates.

François Hollande and former candidates, Jean Luc Mélanchon (Front Gauche) and François Bayrou (Modem) have cast their votes, Hollande arriving at 10:30am in Tulle, greeted by thunderous applause from his supporters in the region. Bayrou, the primary representative of the political center, has been courted by both the right and the left, with some pundits suggesting that under a second Sarkozy term Bayrou would replace existing Prime Minister Fraçois Fillon. However Thursday, Bayrou announced his formal support of Mr. Hollande, citing President Sarkozy’s recent reliance on the rhetoric of the extreme right as an indication of the potential future of his party’s leadership.

Polls will close across the country between 6pm and 8pm, starting with municipal regions and ending in the major metropoles. The estimated results, based on exit polls carefully conducted across the country, will be released to the press at 8pm.

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