French voters go to the polls Sunday in the second and final round of France’s 2017 presidential election, with results available via a live stream below on this page. The French election is seen as a historic vote not only because the country’s two dominant political parties were shut out of Sunday’s runoff election, but the showdown between centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right ultra-nationalist Marine Le Pen represents perhaps Europe’s best hope to turn back the rising tide of extreme right-wing “populism” that led to the Brexit victory in the United Kingdom last year — and the election of Donald Trump in the United States.
The 48-year-old Le Pen, former leader of France’s far-right National Front party, is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, a leading figure in France’s right-wing extremist movement, who has been convicted of denying the Holocaust — a criminal offense in France — and who declares that France should not be ashamed of its role in World War II, in which the French government and large segments of the country’s population collaborated with the Nazis.
Marine Le Pen has echoed her father’s views, denying France’s responsibility for the roundup and deportation of about 76,000 French Jews, most of whom were then killed in the Holocaust. But after finishing second in the first round of the French presidential election two weeks ago, Le Pen resigned from the National Front, a move seen as an effort to put some distance between herself and her father’s extremist views.
Macron’s views are the polar opposite of Le Pen’s, as the 39-year-old, independent centrist candidate has criticized his fellow French citizens who “take refuge” in doubt over France’s collaboration with Nazi Germany. Just last week, Macron visited the Holocaust Memorial in Paris to pay tribute to Holocaust victims.
But Le Pen and Macron also hold opposing views on contemporary issues as well, with Le Pen taking positions similar to those that Trump made the center of his campaign in the United States, stoking fears of terrorism and immigration while also campaigning against “globalization” and leveling harsh criticism at the European Union.
Macron, on the other hand, supports the EU and an “open border” policy within Europe.
Polls open at 8 a.m. Central European Summer Time in France on Sunday, May 7. That’s 2 a.m. United States Eastern Daylight Time, 11 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, Pacific Time in the U.S. Final poll closings are scheduled for 12 hours after opening.
To view a live stream of French 2017 presidential election results and coverage in English, watch the feed from France 24, the French 24-hour news channel, in the video below.
For the French-Language live stream from France 24, view the following video.
For live text updates on the French 2017 presidential election results, see the European edition of the online magazine Politico at this link.
To view a concise summary of the backgrounds and viewpoints of both candidates, watch the following video, courtesy of Bloomberg News.
Heading into Sunday’s vote, polls showed Macron holding a seemingly insurmountable lead over Le Pen, with the average of all polls, as compiled by The Huffington, showing Macron taking 61 percent and Le Pen at just 39 percent.
But two key factors could upset the outcome predicted by the polls.
First, on Saturday, thousands of internal, hacked emails from the Macron campaign were leaked onto the internet. Security specialists quickly traced the hack to Russian intelligence agencies — in an eerie rerun of Russian hacking attacks and document dump targeting Democrat Hillary Clinton on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Le Pen, like Trump, has openly supported Russian president Vladimir Putin, even meeting with Putin in Moscow earlier this year.
Unlike in the United States, however, where media outlets and Clinton opponents eagerly combed through and widely published the stolen emails, in France, the government has warned media outlets and political activists that they could be charged with a criminal offense for publishing or spreading the hacked emails.
The other factor working against Macron is the far left, which, in the first round of the French presidential election, backed leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a candidate often compared to U.S. 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders. After Mélenchon was eliminated, taking 19.6 percent in the multi-candidate primary, about 65 percent of his supporters declared, according to polling figures, that they would refuse to vote for either Le Pen or Macron in Sunday’s final election.
If that total of non-voters proves accurate, it could cut into Macron’s wide polling lead enough to allow Le Pen to win the French presidency in a close election on Sunday.
[Featured Image By Francois Mori/AP Images]