BEIRUT: French voting stations in Beirut witnessed a low voter turnout for the second round of presidential elections on Sunday, local media reported.
“The turnout up till now (Sunday noon) is still lower than the first round of elections (in Beirut),” French Consul General in Beirut Cécile Longé was quoted as saying by the National News Agency.
In the second round of elections and after a campaign rife with scandals and close competition, French voters will vote Sunday in favor of Emmanuel Macron, often described as a pro-European Union centrist or Marine Le Pen, an anti-EU, anti-immigration far-rightist for a term of five years.
“We are choosing between the bad and the worse,” a man told local New TV reporter as he entered the voting center at the French Embassy in Beirut.
Three voting centers were opened in Beirut, at the French Embassy compound and French School in the Sodeco quarter, and the Higher School of Business in Ras Beirut.
While parents were busy casting their votes inside the French Institute adjacent to the French Embassy, children were playing outside in the practically empty entrances, unlike the high turnout witnessed during the first round of elections on April 24.
One center in each of south Lebanon’s Sidon, Mount Lebanon’s Jounieh and north Lebanon’s Tripoli were also opened for voters.
Posters for both Macron and Le Pen were raised at the entrance of the poll stations. Macron's poster read, "Ensemble, La France!" which translates into English as, "Together for France." Le Pen's banner said, "Choisir La France," or "Choose France".
Le Pen's posters had not appeared at the voting stations during the first round as they were delivered after the deadline set by the elections committee.
French ambassador to Lebanon Emmanuel Bonne thanked the volunteers "who helped make the elections process in Lebanon much more smooth," adding that “the Lebanese-French ties of Friendship are manifested now through the voting boxes.”
An additional voting station at the French Embassy in Beirut was dedicated to the French citizens living in Syria, Longé said, adding, however, that "the French authorities did not coordinate with Syrian authorities regarding any facilities for the participation of the French citizens residing in Syria, as the (diplomatic) ties between both sides have been cut."
Voting stations opened at 8:00 a.m. and will continue to receive voters until 7:00 p.m.