Could voters in tough French suburbs swing election surprise?

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In the 'banlieues', the urban rings of high-rise, run-down housing estates where about seven percent of the French population lives, many are disillusioned with five years of Socialist Party rule, an electorate which radical-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, gaining ground in opinion polls just days before the first-round vote, is tapping in to.

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Pointing to the gangs of youths loitering around one of the most crime-ridden housing estates outside Paris, local resident Youssef Rachidi says that after five years of a socialist government nothing has improved, reprots The Financial Times.

“We voted socialist, and these are the sad results,” says the 46-year-old Moroccan and part-time manual labourer who has lived in the La Grande Borne, in the southern suburbs of Paris, for more than a decade.