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 Sunday. The election 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 elections 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 to sign voting registries.