France is going to the presidential polls for the second time on Sunday, 7 May, with the future of European Union hanging in the balance. Voters will choose between the pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron and anti-immigrant far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen.

Ending a tumultuous, and sometimes vicious, election campaign, the decisive presidential run-off kicked off on Saturday, 6 May, with French overseas territories and French citizens living abroad casting their ballots.

Polls will open in metropolitan France at 8am and stations will remain open until 7pm. In some large cities, including Paris, the polling stations will close at 8pm (7pm GMT) to facilitate people to cast their votes. Tens of thousands of security personnel are deployed across the country to guard around 67,000 polling stations.

Preliminary results will start to emerge an hour after the polls official close.

Opinion polls indicate Macron, a 39-year-old former economic minister, could secure a win. But, should his opponent – a 48-year-old nationalist and anti-globalist – wins, France, one of the founding members of EU, could follow the UK and leave the political bloc.

Neither of the two presidential candidates is from France's mainstream left and right parties – the Socialist Party and the Republicans – whose candidates both suffered a severe drubbing in the first round.

"I am the candidate of the people of France such as we love it, of the nation that protects jobs, security, our borders," Le Pen said in her face-to-face TV debate in the run-up to the polls.

If chosen to lead the country, Le Pen has promised to hold a British-style referendum on France's EU membership providing the French with an opportunity to choose "Frexit".

There was also a surprise element shortly ahead of the polling day when 9GB of documents and emails stolen from the Macron campaign were released by a hacking group. Cybersecurity experts who examined the Macron Leaks" said it contained a mix of genuine and fake documents. The leak was reminiscent of the Podesta email leak that hit Hillary Clinton' campaign for the US presidency.

Analysts have said an examination of the leaked document point to a team of hackers linked to Russia's intelligence services as being the source of the leak.

The Russian government has denied it was responsible for the leak.

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen
French presidential election candidate for the En Marche! movement Emmanuel Macron and French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen AFP