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France votes for new president

Voters are going to the polls in France to choose their next president, amid high security following a deadly attack on Paris police four days ago.

About 50,000 police and 7,000 soldiers are being deployed across the country to secure polling.

Eleven candidates are vying to be the country’s next president, with leading candidates spanning the political spectrum from far-left to far-right.

The two with the most votes will go to a run-off round in a fortnight’s time.

Polling stations in France opened at 08:00 local time, although some overseas territories began the voting on Saturday. Voting ends at 20:00, with exit polls expected quickly afterwards.

Four candidates are currently seen as being within reach of the presidency: the conservative Francois Fillon, the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, liberal centrist Emmanuel Macron and the far-left’s Jean-Luc Melenchon.

The candidates have created plenty of debate in the country, all offering dramatically different visions of Europe, immigration, the economy and French identity.

National security had been one of the main talking points during the campaign, but candidates have been accused of exploiting the most recent attack for political gains.The race between the leading contenders is considered too close to call.

A second round between the top two will be held on 7 May.

Mr Fillon is the only one among the leading contenders from an established party of government.

Benoit Hamon, the socialist candidate from the same party as the current president, is seen as out of the running.

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