As France Votes, Louvre Is Evacuated

Suspicious bag left outside courtyard where Macron planned to celebrate
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 7, 2017 7:39 AM CDT
As France Votes, Louvre Is Evacuated
People walk past election posters near a polling station in Paris, France Sunday, May 7, 2017. Voters are choosing a new president in a tense election that could decide Europe's future, making a stark choice between pro-business progressive Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen.   (Emilio Morenatti)

Emmanuel Macron's campaign press office says a suspicious bag that prompted the evacuation of the courtyard outside the Louvre museum where the centrist French presidential candidate has planned to celebrate election night. Macron's team said a press room had been set up at the downtown Paris location and 300 journalists who were on site have been evacuated as a precaution, reports the AP. The Louvre already was being heavily guarded after an extremist attacker targeted soldiers near the museum during the presidential campaign. The Paris police prefecture tweeted a reassuring message: "#Louvre These are simple verification measures carried out as precautionary measure." The runoff election in which Macron is competing against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is being conducted under the watch of 50,000 security forces guarding against extremist attacks.

Police and soldiers were earlier working to secure symbolic Paris venues where France's next president will celebrate victory. While Macron opted for the dignified Esplanade du Louvre, Le Pen plans to celebrate at the Chalet du Lac in the Bois de Vincennes, a vast park on Paris' eastern edge. She is notably staying away from the area around the Paris Opera, associated with her father's xenophobic reign over her National Front party. France's Interior Ministry says voter turnout is running slightly lower than 2012, with 28.23% of eligible voters having cast ballots as of midday, compared with 30.66% five years ago. Macron was considered the frontrunner, but commentators think low voter turnout would benefit Le Pen, whose supporters are seen as more committed and more likely to vote. The unusually tense and unpredictable campaign ended with a hacking attack and document leak targeting Macron on Friday night. France's cybersecurity agency is investigating. (More French presidency stories.)

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