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France

Socialists likely to suffer big losses in French local elections

The campaign for the departmental elections has been dominated by the Marine Le Pen-led National Front
The campaign for the departmental elections has been dominated by the Marine Le Pen-led National Front REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

The far-right National Front is eyeing significant gains while the ruling Socialist Party is predicted to suffer big losses in Sunday’s departmental elections.

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The campaign for the elections that take place in France’s 101 departments has been dominated by the National Front.

According a recently published survey, the party could get 30 per cent of the vote in the first round.

In last year’s European elections, Front National took first place winning 24 seats.

It also took control of 11 town halls in the same year.

It has benefited from a slump in the economy, double-digit unemployment, and a more general loss of trust in the political establishment that has seen approval ratings for Socialist President Francois Hollande plumb record lows.

Despite a boost for the president in the immediate aftermath of the January 7-9 attacks in Paris, where he was seen as statesman-like and decisive, he appears to have failed to capitalise as the economy continues its slow decline.

Despite FN’s brigh prospects, the conservative UMP led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, will probably make the most gains, since Socialist voters are expected to support them in second-round run-offs just to keep the far-right out of power.

The ruling Socialists and their left-wing allies are expected to lose around half of the 61 departments they currently hold.

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