Sarkozy faces heavy defeat in French poll

Sarkozy's centre-right party faces heavy losses in regional elections on Sunday in round two of regional elections.

Sarkozy faces heavy defeat in French poll

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right party faces heavy losses in regional elections on Sunday in round two of regional elections that are his last big national test before he seeks re-election in 2012.

Polling was under way until 8:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) in most areas of the country -- and partial results and exit polls released to media immediately afterwards should make the result clear.

By midday (1100 GMT), 18.57 percent of France's 43.35 million voters had cast their ballot, 2.5 percent more than had done so by that time last week, when the vote was marked by a record 53.6 percent abstention rate.

Last week's first-round vote, while marked by a low turnout, saw the French leader's right-wing supporters win their lowest share of the vote in more than three decades and threatened to wipe them out in regional government.

Sarkozy, whose UMP party still has a comfortable majority in the national parliament, has insisted that the regional poll is not a verdict on central government, but he is expected to order a reshuffle in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the Socialists have called on supporters to turn out in greater numbers to secure their regional bastions and begin a fight back that could see their divided party mount a credible challenge in 2012.

Regional councils in 25 regions -- 22 on the French mainland and three overseas territories -- are up for grabs, the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe having already been won outright by the Socialists in the first round.

The left already controls 20 regions in continental France, and could even wipe Sarkozy's UMP off the map if it wins close run races in right-wing hold-outs Alsace and Corsica.

In March 14's first round, Sarkozy's UMP trailed the Socialists with 26.3 to 29.5 percent of the national vote.

The left-leaning greens of Europe Ecologie scored 12.5 percent and then struck regional electoral pacts with the Socialists for the second round, boosting their joint score well ahead of that of the mainstream right.

Meanwhile, the far-right National Front, led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, did well enough to stay in the race in 12 mainland regions, meaning much of its 11 percent of the vote will remain outside Sarkozy's reach.

Socialist leader Martine Aubry has established some sense of order in her chronically divided party since taking over late in 2008 and she has struck up an alliance for the second round of the election with a newly resurgent Green party.

Just as worrying for the government has been increasingly open criticism of the leadership from within the UMP, where some well-known party figures including former Prime Minister Alain Juppe have called for a change of course.

Earlier this month, Sarkozy dismissed suggestions of a major reshuffle but there was growing speculation last week that at least some of his ministers may lose their jobs after the vote.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Mart 2010, 17:27


Tughluq - 13 yıl Önce

Consequence for his anti Muslim stance. He completely change the policies of Chirac by making the people of France as slave to US.