Volatile presidential election concludes as polls open in France

Today's vote has been held up as one of the most important presidential elections in decades

Volatile presidential election concludes as polls open in France

Far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen and centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron following a TV debate, 03-05-2017. Image: Pool/ABACA/ PA Images

47 million French voters are taking to the polls this morning in what is said to be the most important presidential elections in decades.

the campaign has been the most volatile in a generation - and today's result will provide an insight into the level of voter anger with the political establishment.

Polling stations have opened across France in what has been the most volatile election campaign in a generation, and one which has been a test of voters' anger with the political establishment.

Europe's future

Amid increased security, French citizens will make their final choices after a second-round campaign which pitted two candidates with radically different visions on Europe, the economy, immigration and identity in France against each other.

The choice on the ballot paper will be between Emmanuel Macron's business and EU friendly vision and Marine Le Pen's "France First," anti-immigration strategy.

8000 French citizens in Ireland are also due to vote for the French embassy in Dublin and in city Hall, Cork.

Campaign hack

The presidential campaign was rocked last Friday night when it was revealed that the Macron campaign had been hacked.

The campaign released a statement saying it was the victim of a major hacking incident which involved the leaking of emails and documents as well as the spread of fake information relating to the campaign's running.

French president Francois Hollande has vowed to "respond" to the hacking attacks but gave no further detail.

The French presidential commission is warning the media not to discuss the content due to strict moratorium rules that apply in the 24 hours before an election.

It is unclear if the late minute leak will have any impact on today's vote however.

Campaign

Traditional centre-right and centre-left parties fell at the first round, leaving Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen to fight to the finish.

The economy and jobs have been the dominant issues of the election but security was thrust to the fore mid-campaign after anarmed gunman brought chaos to the Champs-Elysees in Paris, shooting dead a police officer and injuring others.

Security is expected to be tight around polling stations with extra police and soldiers deployed to ensure the selection of the next French president goes ahead without any problems.

Polls are favouring pro-EU Macron with with 63% of the vote while euro-sceptic Le Pen is expected to take 37%.

Surveys suggest many voters plan to abstain, not finding either remaining candidate acceptable after their party was ejected from the race.

Abstentions are expected to hit a record level for a presidential contest which usually attracts high turnout in France.

Many who plan to vote have said they are choosing between the "lesser of two evils."

Election centres are open until local time 7pm tonight after which an exit poll is due to be released which will give an indication of who will be the next to enter the Elysee Palace.