France overseas residents begin voting in second-round of elections

France overseas residents begin voting in second-round of elections

Voters in France’s overseas territories and living abroad started casting ballots Saturday in parliamentary run-off elections that could hand an unprecedented victory to the nationalist far right.

Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration party National Rally came out on top of first-round voting last Sunday, followed by a coalition of centre-left, hard-left and Greens parties – and President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance in a distant third.

The first polling stations opened in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon at noon Paris time this Saturday. In the territory's only constituency, Stéphane Lenormand, who came well ahead of the others on the right, will face Frédéric Beaumont of the Socialist Party.

Elsewhere, residents of French Guiana, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Polynesia and French citizens living on the American continent will start voting in the afternoon. The second round in New Caledonia will start at 10 p.m. Paris time. French citizens living abroad were also able to vote by Internet on Wednesday and Thursday.

The elections wrap up Sunday in mainland France. Initial polling projections are expected when the final voting stations close at 8 p.m. Paris time, with early official results expected late Sunday and early Monday.

Macron called the snap legislative vote after the National Rally won the most votes in France in European Parliament elections last month.

The party, which blames immigration for many of France’s problems, has seen its support climb steadily over the past decade and is hoping to obtain an absolute majority in the second round. That would allow National Rally leader Jordan Bardella to become prime minister and form a government that would be at odds with Macron’s policies on Ukraine, police powers and other issues.

Preelection polls suggest that the party may win the most seats in the National Assembly but fall short of an absolute majority of 289 seats. That could result in a hung parliament.

Macron has said he won’t step down and will stay president until his term ends in 2027, but is expected to be weakened regardless of the result.