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France: High-stakes election begins with anti-immigration party projected to dominate polls

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Voters across France began casting ballots Sunday (Jun. 30) in the first round of a crucial parliamentary election

The outcome of the two-round election, which will wrap up July 7, could impact the lives of dual citizens, the country’s foreign policy and how France’s nuclear arsenal and global military force are managed.

Many French voters are frustrated about the high cost of living and economic concerns, as well as President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership. Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration National Rally party has tapped and fueled that discontent.

A new coalition on the left, the New Popular Front, is also posing a challenge to the pro-business and anti-welfare measures conducted by Macron and his centrist alliance Together for the Republic.

There are 49.5 million registered voters who will choose 577 members of the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament, during the two-round voting.

Oversees’ territories
After a blitz campaign marred by rising hate speech, voting began early in France’s overseas territories, and polling stations opened in mainland France at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) Sunday. The first polling projections are expected at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), when the final polling stations close, and early official results are expected later Sunday night.

In the restive French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, polls already closed at 5 p.m. local time due to an 8 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew that authorities on the archipelago have extended until July 8.

Nine people died during a two-week-long unrest in New Caledonia, where the Indigenous Kanak people have long sought to break free from France, which first took the Pacific territory in 1853. Violence flared on May 13 in response to attempts by Macron’s government to amend the French Constitution and change voting lists in New Caledonia, which Kanaks feared would further marginalize them.

By Rédaction Africanews 

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