French voters are heading to the polls to decide whether to give centrist Emmanuel Macron five more years as president or replace him with far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
After a divisive election campaign, Ms Le Pen faces an uphill battle with her 44-year-old opponent polling ahead.
In order to win they both need to attract voters who backed other candidates in the first round.
But these are two polarising figures in France and abstention is a key factor.
Mr Macron’s detractors call him arrogant and a president of the rich, while the far-right leader has been accused of having ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Polls opened in the run-off vote at 08:00 (06:00 GMT) and 48.7 million people are eligible to take part. First projections of who has won will come at 20:00.
Mr Macron rose to power on a whirlwind promise of change, but many complain they are yet to see it. His presidency has been buffeted by protests, the Covid pandemic and now the rising cost of living.
Marine Le Pen, meanwhile, has learned from the mistakes she made when she was resoundingly beaten by the same opponent in the second round in 2017. This is her third tilt at the presidency and if she fails it could be her last.
The great unknown in this election is how many voters will refuse to back either candidate, whether by casting a blank ballot or not turning out at all. Much of France is on holiday and turnout could be historically low.
The campaign has been short but the choice for voters is clear, between a pro-European sitting president and a nationalist candidate who seeks to ban the headscarf and restrict immigration.
Whatever the result, Mr Macron will address voters on Sunday evening from a stage at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
‘This place is dead after 7pm’
The rising cost of living – described in France as pouvoir d’achat or spending power – has become the number one issue for French voters and Marine Le Pen has promised voters an immediate onslaught on it if she wins.
She has fared particularly well in the smaller towns and rural areas that have struggled economically during the Macron era.
She came top two weeks ago in La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, a pretty town on the River Marne an hour east of Paris. Sitting outside a bar, Cécile says the pandemic hit the area particularly hard: “Before Covid there was a bar here called Avenue de Champagne, but that shut and now the place is dead after 7pm.”
She will vote Le Pen as will Fred, who works on the Paris metro network: “People can’t afford to pay for gas and electricity. When I’m in Paris some things are too expensive and you have to eat.” African immigrants he knows in the capital also say they will vote for her, he adds.
There are plenty of shy Le Pen voters here too. France needs to change, they say, and they leave it at that.
She has carefully moderated her views, but still plans a referendum on strict immigration controls and her idea for a “Europe of nations” would tear the EU apart.
Jean-Claude, 66, may not agree with her hostility to the EU, but he complains too many people take advantage of France’s welfare system and take drugs.
Supporters who displayed Nazi symbols and salutes at the Australia Cup final "should be banned for life", a senior government official has said. Football Australia (FA) said it "strongly condemns the actions of a small minority" of Sydney United 58 fans after opening...
Iranian police clashed with students at one of the country's most prestigious universities on Sunday, according to social and state media reports. Reports say a large number of students at Sharif university in Tehran have been trapped in the campus car park. Videos on...
It's just over a week since the new Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, presented his tax-cutting mini-budget. His aim was to kickstart economic growth. But it seems to have kickstarted a crisis of confidence, a jump in mortgage rates, and calls for a complete U-turn. So what...
Lebanon has said it received a letter from US envoy Amos Hochstein containing "proposals " on a maritime border deal with Israel that could settle competing claims over offshore gasfields. President Michel Aoun met US ambassador Dorothy Shea "who handed him a...
Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has described a draft of the US-brokered deal demarcating a disputed maritime border with Israel as positive. On Saturday, the Lebanese presidency said Beirut had received a letter from US mediator Amos Hochstein on proposals...
Submit your event
We will be happy to share your events. Please email us the details and pictures at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Box: 311001 Independance, Ohio, 44131
+1 (216) 269 3272