France elects regional leaders, preps for presidential vote

PARIS (AP) — Marine Le Pen’s far-right party is riding high on her tough-on-security, stop-immigration message as French voters start choosing regional leaders. The election Sunday is seen as a dress rehearsal for next year’s presidential vote. President Emmanuel Macron’s young centrist party is expected to fare poorly. It lacks a strong local political base and is suffering from frustration at his government’s handling of the pandemic. Turnout in Sunday’s first-round regional election could hit a record low amid disillusionment with politics and virus concerns. Those who do show up to vote must stay masked and socially distanced and carry their own pens.