French voters started casting ballots for the presidential election Sunday in a tense first-round poll seen as a test of how far populism has spread.

Sunday’s election will determine the top two candidates, who will then proceed to a run-off vote on May 7. Francois Fillon of The Republicans, Emmanuel Macron of En Marche!, Jean-Luc Melenchon of La France Insoumise, and Marine Le Pen of the National Front are viewed as the top four favorites in the race.

Seven others are also vying for the title of president, including Benoit Hamon of the Socialist Party, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan of Debout la France, Nathalie Arthaud of Lutte Ouvriere, Philippe Poutou of the New Anticapitalist Party, Jacques Cheminade of Solidarity and Progress, Jean Lassalle of Resistons!, and Francois Asselineau of the Popular Republican Union.

The French government has mobilized more than 50,000 police and gendarmes to protect 70,000 polling stations amid a high terror alert. An additional 7,000 soldiers are also on patrol. Meanwhile, polls opened on Saturday in France’s overseas territories, allowing citizens to cast their ballots a day ahead of voters on the French mainland.


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