Exit Poll Shows Macron, Le Pen Leading in French Presidential Vote

© REUTERS / Patrick KovarikFrench presidential election candidates (LtoR) Francois Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Luc Melenchon, Marine Le Pen and Benoit Hamon, pose before a debate organised by French private TV channel TF1 in Aubervilliers, outside Paris, France.
French presidential election candidates (LtoR) Francois Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Luc Melenchon, Marine Le Pen and Benoit Hamon, pose before a debate organised by French private TV channel TF1 in Aubervilliers, outside Paris, France. - Sputnik International
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An exit poll carried out by Belgian RTBF channel shows that independent candidate Emmanuel Macron is leading with 24 percent of votes, while far-right leader Marine Le Pen gained 22 percent.

First round of French presidential election - Sputnik International
Why France's Presidential Vote Will Surprise You
According to the RTBF exit poll, The Republicans' candidate Francois Fillon gained 20.5 percent of votes, whil 18 percent of French voters chose left-wing Jean-Luc Melenchon.

French media are prohibited by the law from publishing any preliminary results until the last polling stations are closed. First results from the French Interior Ministry may appear after 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. Paris time (17:00 or 18:00 GMT).

The French residents choose from 11 candidates in the first round, but only two of them will make it to the second round on May 7, which will be held if nobody gets support of more than half of voters.

Guards of honor at the Elysee Palace, Paris - Sputnik International
Choose Your Candidate in French Presidential Election
On Sunday, over 66,000 polling stations opened in France at 8 a.m. local time (6:00 GMT). About 47 million voters are expected to cast ballots, choosing among 11 presidential candidates. The first results are expected at around 8 p.m. local time later in the day, when the polls close.

In order to cast a ballot in France a citizen must be over 18 years old, not legally banned from voting and registered on the electoral list.

The same rules are applied to presidential candidates. They must also show a sense of 'moral dignity', which is a loose term without a clear legal definition. A presidential hopeful must also collect 500 signatures of support from elected representatives.

Anyone who is able to fulfill this criteria becomes eligible to run for the first round. If nobody wins the first round with the absolute majority, the two highest scoring candidates face each other in a runoff.

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