French local elections: the results and reactions

France went to the polls on Sunday in nationwide local elections in what is as an important test for the Right and Left at this midway point of the socialist government’s five-year term of office. Opinion polls forecast the far-right Front National party to make massive gains, and the Socialist Party to suffer a drubbing, while the uncertainty hung over the capacity of the conservative UMP party, now headed by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, to retain its place as the leading party of the Right. The elections, which concern 43 milion voters, will decide the makeup of the councils governing France’s 101 départements, equivalent to counties, and are held over two rounds, this Sunday and next, with only those candidates who garner more than 50% of votes cast tonight being elected outright. Follow the results as they come in with this election night special report (please refresh the article page for latest updates).

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First estimations released at 8p.m. on Sunday evening placed the conservative UMP party and its allies as overall victor in France’s local elections, with a 36% share of votes cast, with the ruling Socialist Party and its allies in second place with 28.5%, and the far-right Front National in third position with 24.5%.