French voters have inflicted a major defeat on the ruling Socialist Party and its allies in Sunday's local elections. The Left lost control of 25 of the départements or counties that it held before the election, leaving it in the majority in just 34. In contrast, the alliance between the right-wing UMP - headed by Nicolas Sarkozy - and the centrists UDI is now in control of 66 département councils in a dramatic shift of power in French local politics. The far-right Front National, meanwhile, failed in its bid to win control in a council for the first time in its history though it did see around 60 councillors elected. The outcome is widely seen as a major slap in the face delivered by voters to President François Hollande's government. The Right won power both in the president's political stronghold and that of the prime minister Manuel Valls. Conceding the serious setback for the socialists, Valls also highlighted the performance of Marine Le Pen's party as a “defeat for all Republicans”. But he has vowed to stay on as head of government and - to the dismay of some on the Left - made clear that its current policies would continue.
Centrist politician Gilles Bourdouleix, who is also a local mayor, lost an appeal against conviction for condoning a crime against humanity.
The ex-minister and founder of the centrist UDI party Jean-Louis Borloo is to give up political life because of ill health.
The pro-EU centre-right alliance, which is to be called the Alternative, hopes to capitalise on frustration with President François Hollande.