Keyword: cantonal elections

Far-right surge gives French left little to rejoice over

An abstention rate of more than 55% and significant gains by the far-right Front National party were the key results of the first round of local elections held across France at the weekend. But while it was a severe defeat for President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, the left-wing opposition parties also had little to rejoice over. Stéphane Alliès and Lénaig Bredoux report.

French local elections to test strength of far-right

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Local elections in France this weekend will provide an instructive test of the strength of parties ahead of next year's presidential elections. The focus will be on the far-right Front National, which opinion polls suggest has recently gained a significant increase in support, and which hopes to maul President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP conservative right party in a number of regions. Stéphan Alliès details what the elections are about, and what's at stake for the parties involved.