Socialists fear options after regional rout in SE France

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France’s far-right Front National (FN) party is hoping to take control of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in nationwide regional elections played out today and next Sunday. The council of this south-east corner of France has been run for 17 years by the Socialist Party, which is now predicted to receive a drubbing. The main predicament facing the socialists after the first round is whether or not to withdraw their list of candidates for the benefit of the hard-right conservative candidate to defeat the FN. But, as Ellen Salvi reports from Nice, even collective political suicide may not be enough to stop the increasingly popular far-right.

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The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, with a population of about five million, makes up the vast south-east corner of France, stretching east along the Mediterranean coast from Marseille, the regional capital, to the Riviera border with Italy and, further north inland, from the ancient papal city of Avignon east to the foothills of the Alps.