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French Presidential Election: vote kicks off amid tight security

French voters are going to the polls Sunday for the first round of a standout amongst the most dubious presidential decisions in the nation's current history. 

Roughly 45.7 million voters in terrain France and abroad are qualified to vote, however mass abstentions are dreaded in the midst of security concerns and a polarizing choice of candidates. 

A run-off  is slated for May 7 between the main two out of the 11 presidential hopefuls. 

Voters will cast their tickets under high safety measures after Thursday's terrorist shooting in the French capital, in which a cop and the shooter both passed on. 
The Interior Ministry said 50,000 officers will be positioned at the 69,000 polling stations set up across the country over and abroad. 

Some local media announced that security expert the DCSP had sent an inside memo cautioning of a "consistent and pregnant" danger of brutality amid the election race. 

Voting has as of now started Saturday morning in the French island of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, French Polynesia in the South Pacific and Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Martinique in the Caribbean, and in addition in U.S. states and Canada. 

French Interior Ministry gauges expat voters at 1.3 million, making them a sizable segment of the whole electorate.

According to a survey released by Elabe on Friday morning, the centrist, independent candidate Emmanuel Macron could lead the first-round voting with 24 percent, closely followed by far-right candidate Marine Le Pen with 21.5 percent.
Conservative candidate Francois Fillon ranks third with 20 percent and far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon fourth with 19.5 percent.
The candidate of the struggling ruling Socialist Party, Benoit Hamon, already seems to be out of the race.
All recent polls point out that this election is too close to call with the four frontrunners representing opposite poles, making it the most unpredictable contest in years.
Almost 30 percent of voters could abstain according to a Cevipof poll of 11,601 people for Le Monde newspaper on Thursday, adding to the uncertainty.
The abstention rate reached a record level at 28 percent in France's 2002 presidential election, when the then National Front leader, Le Pen's father Jean-Marie Le Pen, made it to the run-off before he was beaten by conservative candidate Jacques Chirac.
Security concerns, especially after Thursday's shooting, are raising the possibility of mass abstentions. The French president, prime minister and several candidates have urged the French public not to "give in to fear" and go out to vote.
Polling stations are due to close between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. local time (1800-1900GMT) for some cities, which will push the announcement of preliminary results to around 9 p.m. (2000GMT) local time, slightly later than usual as the close race is expected to complicate and delay the results.
A run-off is slated for May 7 between the top two candidates. France's new president will be formally confirmed by mid-May.
The presidential election will be followed by a two-round legislative election to select the French parliament in June.

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