* Opinion polls tip Macron for victory
* Turnout at noon lowest since 2002
* Campaign marked by scandal and surprises
* Three surveys reported in Belgium give Macron over 60
* Last polling stations close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT)
(Updates with Belgian report of election-day polling, paragraph
By Ingrid Melander and Jan Strupczewski
PARIS/BRUSSELS, May 7 French voters were
choosing on Sunday between a young, pro-European Union centrist
and a eurosceptic, anti-immigration far-rightist for their next
president, with early figures indicating a relatively low
Opinion polls predicted that the 39-year-old former economy
minister Emmanuel Macron would win the five-year presidency,
seeing off the National Front's Marine Le Pen after an election
campaign full of scandal and upsets.
Voting was not due to end until 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), but
Belgian media published what they said were the results of
surveys taken on Sunday by three unnamed opinion pollsters among
people who had voted or intended to vote.
The Belgian public broadcaster RTBF said the surveys put
Macron's share of the vote at between 62 and 64 percent.
The information could not be verified by Reuters. Pollsters
are not allowed to publish election-day surveys in France before
The last opinion polls on Friday gave Macron between 61.5
and 63 percent of the vote. Forecasts of the result proved
accurate for the tight first round race between 11 candidates
A victory for Macron, who wants to deregulate the economy
and deepen EU integration, would contrast with recent nativist,
anti-globalisation voting outcomes like those that will see
Britain quit the EU and made Donald Trump U.S. president.
Should an upset occur and Le Pen win, the very future of the
EU could be on the line, given her desire to close borders, dump
the euro currency, and tear up trade treaties.
But even in defeat, the 48-year-old's vote is likely to be
about twice what her party scored the last time it reached the
presidential second round in 2002, demonstrating the scale of
voter disaffection with mainstream politics in France.
By midday, both candidates had voted, he in Le Touquet on
the north coast, and she in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont.
Figures from the Interior Ministry said 28.23 percent of
voters had turned out by midday, the lowest at that point since
the 2002 presidential poll, when it was 26.19 percent. A poll on
Friday had predicted a final turnout of 75 percent, down from
over 80 percent in 2002, 2007 and 2012.
Pollsters see likely abstentions as highest among left-wing
voters who feel disenfranchised by Sunday's choice.
It remained unclear what the final turnout would be, and
what a high or low showing could mean for the outcome. One extra
unknown is the level of blank and spoilt ballot papers.
Markets have risen in response to Macron's widening lead
over his rival after a bitter television debate on Wednesday.
"We increased our equity exposure and added some French
stocks after the first round," said Francois Savary, chief
investment officer at Geneva-based fund management firm Prime
Partners. "The major political risk of a Le Pen victory appears
to be disappearing."
After a campaign in which favourites dropped out of the race
one after the other, Le Pen is nevertheless closer to elected
power than the far right has been in France since World War Two.
If opinion polls prove accurate and the country elects its
youngest-ever president rather than its first female leader,
Macron himself has said himself he expects no honeymoon period.
Close to 60 percent of those who plan to vote for Macron say
they will do so to stop Le Pen from being elected to lead the
euro zone's second-largest economy, rather than because they
fully support the former banker turned politician.
"I don't necessarily agree with either of the candidates,"
psychotherapist Denise Dulliand, who was voting in Annecy in the
mountainous southeast, told Reuters.
"But I wanted to express my voice, to be able to say that I
came, even if I am really not satisfied with what is happening
in our country, and that I would like to see less stupidity,
less money and more fraternity."
MORE ELECTIONS TO COME
The battle between mainstream and more radical policies in
France will continue into parliamentary elections next month in
which the new president will try to secure a majority in
parliament. One poll this week suggested that was within reach
Much will also depend on how the candidates score on Sunday.
Le Pen's niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, on Thursday told
L'Opinion daily that winning 40 percent of the vote would be "a
huge victory" for the National Front.
Whoever wins will open a new chapter in French politics,
after the big left- and right-wing movements that have ruled
France for decades both suffered humiliating defeats in the
election's first round.
The campaign suffered yet another surprise on Friday night,
just as the quiet period in which politicians are forbidden from
commenting began. Macron's team said a massive hack had dumped
emails, documents and campaign-financing information online.
With security a prime concern, more than 50,000 police
officers were on duty on Sunday. A series of militant attacks in
Paris, Nice and elsewhere in France have killed more than 230
people in recent years.
The courtyard of the Louvre Museum in Paris, where Macron is
due to speak after the result, was briefly evacuated on Sunday
after a suspect bag was found.
(Reporting by Ingrid Melander, Marina Depetris and Bate Felix;
Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Andrew
Callus and Kevin Liffey)