French voters will go to the polls to elect either Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen as president, with polls showing Macron repeating the 2017 victory over his far-right rival, albeit by a smaller margin.

As a champion of the European Union, Macron’s second five-year term will bring relief to most of France’s European and international partners and investors as they grapple with the economic and humanitarian fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On the other hand, a victory for the Eurosceptic Le Pen would be a political earthquake, similar to the Brexit vote or Donald Trump’s election in the US, given her previous ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and her manifesto promises Pull France out of the NATO military command structure.

Macron’s lead more than doubled from the first round two weeks ago, with 54.6 percent of the votes expected, compared with 45.4 percent for Le Pen, the Financial Times’ poll tracker showed. In 2017, he won 66 percent to 34 percent.

Both candidates are fighting to win the nearly 8 million voters who backed far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round of voting and persuade disillusioned abstainers to show up at the polls.

At noon on Sunday, the Home Office said 26.4 percent of registered voters had cast ballots, lower than at the same time in the runoffs of the previous three presidential elections.

In the first round of voting involving 12 candidates, Macron came out on top with 28 percent of the vote, followed by Le Pen with 23 percent and Mélenchon with 22 percent. To govern effectively, the winner of the second round will need the support of the national majority. General Assembly, whose elections will be held in June.

Marine Le Pen leaves the polling station in Henin-Beaumont. At a meeting last week, she told voters: “The final question is simple: do you want Macron or France?” © Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Emmanuel Macron leaves polling place

Emmanuel Macron after voting in Le Touquet, northern France. The Financial Times’ poll tracker shows the president’s lead more than doubled from the first round of voting two weeks ago © Gonzalo Fuentes/AP

Le Pen has mounted a strong challenge to Macron over the past year, running dozens of campaigns in towns and villages across France. Her campaign has focused more on poverty and rising prices triggered by the war in Ukraine than on her party’s traditional concerns about immigration and crime.

On Friday, the final day of the campaign, Le Pen made good on one of Macron’s least popular manifesto promises to increase the retirement age from 62 to 65 to maintain the country’s expensive pension system It aligns with other wealthy economies where people live longer.

“With Emmanuel Macron, the French will finally work forever,” she quipped while visiting a market in Étaples, northern France.

At her final big meeting in Arras on Thursday night, she said voters could choose between Macron’s approach to deregulation and “globalism” and her fraternal vision of a “nation” in which , a caring nation will protect people’s lives. “The final question is simple: do you want Macron or France?”

On Wednesday, commentators saw Macron trumping Le Pen in their only televised debate, with Macron also framing the election as a choice between two opposing worldviews.

At the end of his speech in the town square at the last meeting in Figeac, southwest France, Macron declared the election a referendum for or against Europe. For or against a unified secular French Republic; For or against a strong economy; For or against respect for the country’s values ​​and history.