France Votes: 11 Candidates, Evacuation, Topless Protesters
It could be a wild day in Round 1 of election
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 23, 2017 5:57 AM CDT
A Femen activists wearing the mask of Marine le Pen is detained as they demonstrate in Henin Beaumont, northern France, where far-right leader candidate Le Pen will vote, Sunday, April 23, 2017.   (Michel Spingler)
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(Newser) – A voting station in eastern France has reopened after being evacuated because of a suspicious vehicle parked nearby. Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told the AP that the voting station in Besancon was evacuated while explosives experts examined the car, but they deemed there to be no risk. He said no other incidents have been reported in Sunday's first-round presidential election. Tens of thousands of security forces are guarding voting stations across France after an attack in Paris on Thursday revived security concerns. France remains under a state of emergency after deadly Islamic extremist attacks in recent years. The top two winners on Sunday will advance to a May 7 runoff. A look around the contentious election, the most unpredictable in generations:

  • Around six topless Femen demonstrators were detained when they staged a stunt against Marine Le Pen outside a polling station where the far-right presidential candidate was heading to vote. They jumped out of an SUV limo wearing masks of Le Pen and President Trump. Le Pen voted at the station shortly after without further disruption.
  • Centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, one of the frontrunners in France's unpredictable election, has voted in the coastal town of Le Touquet in northern France alongside his wife Brigitte Macron.
  • President Francois Hollande has cast his vote in his political fiefdom of Tulle in Correze, southwestern France. The incumbent Socialist made the unusual move last year of pledging to not stand for re-election. The Socialist candidate is 49-year-old Benoit Hamon, who is not among the frontrunners.
  • The wife of conservative candidate and former PM Francois Fillon has cast her ballot near their country home—conspicuously not alongside her husband. Penelope Fillon, 61, was handed preliminary charges for her role in a fake jobs scandal—dubbed "Penelopegate"—that had threatened to derail her husband's campaign.
  • The vote "is really important, mainly because we really need a change in this country with all the difficulties we are facing and terrorism," said Paris resident Alain Richaud. "It's definitely risky, but I have faith in the result even if an extreme candidate qualifies for the second round," said Beatrice Schopflin.

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