France votes Sunday in pivotal runoff elections that could hand a historic victory to Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally and its nationalistic, anti-immigrant vision — or produce a hung parliament and years of political deadlock.

Sunday’s snap elections in this nuclear-armed nation have potential impact on the war in Ukraine, global diplomacy and Europe’s economic stability. And they’re almost certain to undercut President Emmanuel Macron for the remaining three years of his presidency. France could have its first far-right government since the Nazi occupation in World War II if the National Rally wins an absolute majority and its 28-year-old leader Jordan Bardella becomes prime minister.

Racism and antisemitism have marred the electoral campaign, along with Russian cybercampaigns, and more than 50 candidates reported being physically attacked — unusual for France. The government is deploying 30,000 police on voting day.

The second-round voting began Saturday in France’s overseas territories from the South Pacific to the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and North Atlantic. The elections wrap up Sunday at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) in mainland France. Initial polling projections are expected Sunday night, with early official results expected late Sunday and early Monday.

Here’s the latest:

A pro-independence candidate in New Caledonia wins a parliament seat

In the restive French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, a pro-independence Indigenous Kanak candidate has won a seat in France’s parliament over a loyalist candidate in the second round of voting.

Emmanuel Tjibaou is a political novice and a son of a well-known Kanak independence leader, Jean-Marie Tjibaou, who was assassinated in 1989. He is the first pro-independence candidate to win a seat in the National Assembly since 1986.

Indigenous Kanaks have long sought to break free from France, which took the archipelago in 1853. Polls closed earlier in New Caledonia because of a curfew imposed in response to the violence that flared last month and left nine people dead. There was anger over an attempt to amend the French Constitution and change voting lists, which Indigenous Kanaks feared would further marginalize them.

Right-wing candidate and French loyalist Nicolas Metzdorf has won New Caledonia’s second parliament seat.

Macron votes

French President Emmanuel Macron voted in high-stakes legislative elections Sunday that could force him to share power with the rising far right.

Macron called the surprise vote after the anti-immigration, nationalist National Rally made huge gains in the June 9 European elections, taking a huge gamble that French voters would block the far-right party as they always have in the past.

But the National Rally instead won a larger share than ever in the first round on June 30, and its leader Marine Le Pen called on voters to give the party an absolute majority in the second round.

Sunday’s vote determines which party controls the National Assembly and who will be prime minister. If no party wins an absolute majority, forming a government comes only after extensive negotiations.

Early turnout reported

As of noon local time, turnout was at 26.63%, according to France’s interior ministry. That’s slightly higher than the 25.90% reported at the same time during the first round of voting last Sunday.

Parisians worry about future after casting ballots

Voters at a Paris polling station were acutely aware of the elections’ far-reaching consequences for France and beyond.

“The individual freedoms, tolerance and respect for others is what at stake today,” said Thomas Bertrand, a 45-year-old voter who works in advertising. He voted at a school where, as at all French schools, the national motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” was displayed prominently.

Pierre Lubin, a 45-year-old business manager, was worried about whether the elections would produce an effective government.

“This is a concern for us,” Lubin said. “Will it be a technical government or a coalition government made up of (different) political forces?”

Even with the outcome still in doubt, Valerie Dodeman, a 55-year-old legal expert, said she is pessimistic about the future of France.

“No matter what happens, I think this election will leave people disgruntled on all sides,” Dodeman said.

Prime minister casts ballot in Paris suburb

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal cast his ballot in the Paris suburb of Vanves Sunday morning.

Macron is expected to vote later in the seaside town of La Touquet, while Le Pen is not voting after winning her district in northern France outright last week. Across France, 76 candidates secured seats in the first round, including 39 from her National Rally, 32 from the leftist New Popular Front alliance, and two from Macron’s centrist list.

Polls open in mainland France for the second round of high-stakes legislative elections

Voting opened Sunday in mainland France for the second round of high-stake legislative elections that have already seen the largest gains ever for the country’s far-right National Rally party.

French President Emmanuel Macron took a huge gamble in dissolving parliament and calling for the elections after his centrists were trounced in European elections on June 9. The first round on June 30 saw the largest gains ever for the anti-immigration, nationalist National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen. Sunday’s vote determines which party controls the National Assembly and who will be prime minister.

If support is further eroded for Macron’s weak centrist majority, he will be forced to share power with parties opposed to most of his pro-business, pro-European Union policies.

The second-round voting began Saturday in France’s overseas territories from the South Pacific to the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and North Atlantic. The elections wrap up Sunday at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) in mainland France. Initial polling projections are expected Sunday night, with early official results expected late Sunday and early Monday.

Candidates make hurried deals to try to stop far-right National Rally from leading government

Opposition parties made hurried deals ahead of Sunday’s second round of voting to try to block a landslide victory for Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally in the legislative elections, as she said her party would lead the government only if it won an absolute majority — or close to it.

An unprecedented number of candidates who qualified for Round 2 from the left-wing alliance of the New Popular Front and from President Emmanuel Macron’s weakened centrists have stepped aside to favor the candidate most likely to win against a National Rally opponent.

According to a count by French newspaper Le Monde, some 218 candidates who were supposed to compete in the second round have pulled out. Of those, 130 were on the left, and 82 came from the Macron-led centrist alliance Ensemble.

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