Sarkozy's party suffers losses in key cities

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing party suffered considerable losses in local elections that concluded Sunday, as the opposition Socialists won several major cities including Paris.

Sarkozy's party suffers losses in key cities
The first round of the vote was conducted on March 9, with Sunday's being the second or final round.

The left-wing Socialist Party gained control of Paris, the country's third largest city Lyon, as well as Strasbourg and Toulouse.

However, Sarkozy's Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) won the second largest city Marseille to save itself from complete humiliation in the nationwide vote.

The elections were widely regarded as the first major test of popularity for Sarkozy, who defeated Socialist Segolene Royal in last May's presidential elections.

Sarkozy's opinion poll ratings have dropped dramatically over the past months due to the flagging economy and his controversial personal life, including his much-publicized romance and marriage with supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni.

With 89 percent of the votes counted, the left won 48.7 percent compared to the right's 47.6 percent, official results showed. Thevoter turnout was only 65 percent, a very low figure in recent years.

As votes seemed quite evenly divided between the left and the right nationally, more attention is being paid to the number of major cities captured by the two camps.

Francois Hollande, the Socialist Party's first secretary, said the election results showed voters were dissatisfied with Sarkozy's current policies and were demanding a change.

However, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the elections just reflected the opinion of voters toward local governments, and were not necessarily a test of national policies.

He said the central government will push forward Sarkozy's extensive reform plans.

Agencies
Last Mod: 17 Mart 2008, 16:07
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