After more than two hours in a queue that snaked for more than a mile round the cosseted streets of South Kensington, Jérémy, 36, was finally nearing the voting booth – and still was not sure for which candidate he would cast his ballot. Who are the leading candidates in the French presidential election? With his two-year-old son Ernest in a pushchair, the engineer from Guildford said he had followed the campaign closely on French media but was still hesitating. Would it be the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, or the hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Mélenchon? “It all feels new this time around,” he said. “Elections used to be all about left and right. This is between the centre and the extremes, continuity or change, Europe or not Europe. There are good elements in both programmes … I just don’t know. Angel, or demon?”
In the image of a mainland France so divided that any two of the four leading candidates in its presidential election could conceivably go through to the runoff, hundreds of thousands of French citizens abroad queued to cast their ballot in the first round of voting on Sunday.
Outside the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in South Kensington, one of three polling stations in London for 93,500 voters, and one of 13 across Britain, the queue had lengthened to more than two kilometres by mid-morning and the wait to nearly three hours.