PARIS, May 7. /TASS/. Voters in France go to the polls on Sunday to vote in a runoff presidential election. The polling stations will open at 08:00 hours Central European Daylight Time in the continental part of the country.
Voting in the largest cities including Paris will round up at 20:00 hours CEDT. Any publication of forecasts or interim results is strictly prohibited before that.
The French voters are to choose from among two finalists of the first round - the former economics minister and effective investment banker Emmanuel Macron, who founded En Marche supra-party movement, and the fiery leader of the Front National, Marine Le Pen.
Macron finished the first round with 24.01% votes and Le Pen, with 21.3%
Opinion polls put Macron in the lead at the moment, with the bulk of public opinion research services saying as many as 62% French voters are ready support him.
Le Pen, a lawyer by training and occupation, is likely to rally support of 38% voters - double the percentage she received in the 2012 presidential election when she got 17.9% votes.
The winner in the runoff will replace President Francois Hollande who accepted the position in May 2012 but refused to run for a second term at the end of last year on the background of a rather low popularity rating.
Opinion researchers say unmarked ballots may play a notable role in the runoff of the presidential race. No less than 6% French voters cast unmarked ballots in the 1969 presidential election, the first one after Charles de Gaulle’s resignation, as the difference in the platforms promulgated by the two candidates, Prime Minister Georges Pompidou and Senate President Alain Poher was not considerable enough.
This time, the percentage of those who use the latter option may go up to 10% This may be the case if a definite section of the electorate heeds the recommendations by the trade unions that do not want to see either Macron or Le Pen get to the Office of the President.
Le Point magazine recalls in this connection that more than a half of the 47 million French voters will have to choose between the contenders whom they did not vote for in the first round.
An unmarked ballot will mean in practice that a voter had abstained from making a choice. Voting in this manner may affect Macron, in the first place, since he cherishes the hope to rally support of the groups of the electorate that voted for Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of La France Insoumise (The Defiant France) movement, and Benoit Hamon, the official candidate of the Socialist Party, in the first round.
The electorate of the Republicans candidate Francois Fillon, who received 20.01% votes and did not get into the runoff, appears to be split as regards the preferences in the runoff, as 45% of it will most likely vote for Macron and about 30%, for Le Pen.