LOUBEJAC went to the polls yesterday, like the rest of France, in the first round of the presidential election and like the rest of the country backed Emmanuel Macron.
But also like the rest of France, Marine Le Pen took second place in front of the two other leading figures in the race, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and François Fillon.
The count, or dépouillement, started on the chime of 19h from the church across the parking place of the mairie.
Squeezed into the small office of the mairie was the maire himself and a dozen other councillors, as well as around 20 local people sat on chairs and stood in the corridor as the individual envelopes from the ballot box were counted.
As the maire opened each envelope and took out the small piece of white paper bearing the name of the presidential candidate gaining a vote he read out the name in a clear voice.
Two forms were completed in tandem noting down each vote and slowly it became clear that Macron was beginning to gain more votes and stretch away from the others.
Twenty minutes later and the result was known, it was telephoned through to the French authorities after being signed off by all the councillors, and copies were produced for those present to see the number of votes for each candidate and the overall turnout.
The connection between the vote and the local people was the clearest sign to me of the importance of the dépouillement, the ballot box was not taken away and counted in a larger town.
The link between voting, the local mairie and ultimately the presidential election itself was clear to see and those in attendance, that included those who have voted many times as well as a first-time voter, wanted to ensure that connection remained strong.
Overall across France this election is like no other with the second round not featuring either of the two leading parties of the past, the Socialists and Republicans were clearly rejected, while Macron and Le Pen go head-to-head over the next two weeks before the second and final vote on 7 May.
Full results from communes across France are available here, and the image below shows the split across France of Macron's vote focused in urban areas, while Le Pen has gained a strong presence in agricultural regions.
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