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Voters overseas could also cast ballots in French embassies.
Le Pen, the 48-year-old leader of the National Front (FN), hopes to capitalise on security jitters that were catapulted to the fore of the campaign after the fatal shooting of a policeman on
Paris's Champs Ulysses avenue claimed by the Islamic State group.
"The timing of the Champs-Élysées attack in
Paris is remarkably similar to the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, which took place just three days before the country's general elections", Katz said.
Polls opened Saturday morning in Canada's main French speaking city, home to Quebec's highest population of French nationals.
March 18, 2017: Eleven candidates get the go-ahead to run in the election.
The French presidential hopefuls said they will support for the process of holding an independence referendum by the end of next year.
He called the measures a "guarantee to the French people this fundamental right of choosing their future".
By 5 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET) 69.42% of France's 47 million registered voters had cast their ballots, according to the Interior Ministry.
In 2012, the turnout was 79.5 percent in the first round.
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told The Associated Press that the voting station in Besancon was evacuated while explosives experts examined the auto, but they deemed there to be no risk. "We can't give into divisiveness", she said.
Ousted South Korean president Park Geun-hye has been formally charged in a corruption scandal that led to her impeachment. Park, in particular, has been charged with forcing companies to sign contracts beneficial for Choi and her associates.
The first round will send two of 11 candidates into a run-off vote in two weeks' time to pick a new president for France, a core member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and the world's fifth largest economy.
After Trump won in November, Le Pen told CNN, "Donald Trump has made possible what was presented as completely impossible".
Police and security forces quickly forced them into police vans, confiscating their signs.
"If it's Marine Le Pen, it's completely incredible".
The election is taking place amid heightened security.
On Sunday, around 50,000 police and 7,000 soldiers will be deployed to protect voters across France.
Macron, only 39, is seeking to become France's youngest ever president and has campaigned on a strongly pro-EU and pro-business platform.
The two top will go through to a runoff on May 7.
Both Le Pen and Melenchon - two candidates from opposite extremes of the political spectrum - could pull France out of the 28-nation bloc and its shared euro currency in a so-called "Frexit".
The pundit added the campaign will mean within the five years before the election, the European Union has to prove its worth to France to risk collapse.
Not that that's an indicator of anything, there are some parts of our game that could be better, there's no doubt in my mind. And the Wild can not expect to just flip the switch and dominate again without putting in the work.
But it was certainly in the minds of the candidates, including Hollande, who acknowledged France was experiencing troubled times.
Macron, a former investment banker and economy minister who says he is neither right nor left but wants to reboot France's failed political system, is a fervent pro-European whose victory would be cheered in Brussels.
Presidential candidates usually vote together with their spouses.
She voted in the department of Sarthe, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) away from the French capital, where she lives with her husband in a 14th-century manor.
Analysts were divided on whether the shooting on Thursday night of officer Xavier Jugelé by Karim Cheurfi, who had served 14 years in prison for violent crimes including the attempted murder of two policemen, would affect the vote.
Projections based on partial results usually come in at 8:00 pm but could be delayed due to the extra hour of voting.
The far left is further splintered between Trotskyist Nathalie Arthaud and Philippe Poutou of the New Anti-Capitalist Party.
Paris , voters were lining up early at polling stations. It's the most unpredictable election in generations.
With campaigning banned on Saturday, Friday's final polls showed the four leading candidates - independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, far-right Front National leader
Marine Le Pen , scandal-hit conservative François Fillion and hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Mélenchon - so close that any two could go through.
But Yanis Olive, a 35-year-old photographer voting in
Paris , said security was not "a major issue" - unemployment and the economy were more important.
Folks on social media couldn't help but compare this prisoner release to the one the Obama administration negotiated with Iran. As a crackdown on civil society groups was gathering pace in May 2014, police raided the Belady Foundation's Cairo premises.
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Source : http://ekosvoice.com/2017/04/23/france-goes-to-the-polls-in-tight-election-race.html