PARIS – France began voting Sunday in the first round of the most unpredictable presidential election in decades.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron are the favourites to progress to a run-off on May 7 but polls have shown the race is so tight that four candidates have a strong chance of reaching the second round.

50,000 police and gendarmes to protect 70,000 polling stations, with an additional 7,000 soldiers on patrol.