FRANCE: Massive voters turnout as Far Right eyes huge gains

French voters turned out in large numbers Sunday for the final round of a high-stakes election that is expected to leave the far right as the biggest force in a deeply divided parliament.

By 5:00 pm (1500 GMT), according to interior ministry figures, some 59.71 percent of voters had turned out — the most at this stage of a legislative race since 1981, with three hours of polling to go.

President Emmanuel Macron called the snap elections three years ahead of time after his forces were trounced in June’s European parliament vote, a gamble which seems to have backfired.

The mood in France is tense, with 30,000 police deployed to head off trouble and voters anxious about a potential electoral earthquake shifting the political landscape.

In the village of Rosheim, outside the eastern city of Strasbourg, an “anguished” 72-year-old Antoine Schrameck said he feared France would see “a turning point in the history of the republic”.

And in Tourcoing, near the northeast city of Lille, 66-year-old retiree Laurence Abbad said she feared violence after the results are announced. “There’s so much tension, people are going mad,” she said.

The president was to assemble Prime Minister Gabriel Attal and the leaders of the parties in his outgoing centrist coalition at the Elysee Palace while voting continued, sources in his camp told AFP.

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