France’s centre-right UMP party and its allies made strident gains in local elections on Sunday, delivering a winding blow to President François Hollande’s Socialist party.
The UMP, led by the former president Nicolas Sarkozy and in an election coalition with the centrist UDI party, won between 66 and 70 départements compared with 41 previously, according to projections from polling companies.
By contrast, the Socialist party looked to have held on to between only 27 and 31 — barely half the 61 départements it controlled before.
The far-right National Front (FN), meanwhile, appeared to have made considerable ground in Sunday’s second-round vote — though it was unclear if it had done enough to win full control of any départements.
Even so, the anti-immigration, anti-euro party led by Marine Le Pen is likely to have done much to boost its national presence as it looks ahead to the 2017 presidential election. The FN has made important gains in recent years, wooing voters from both left and right, disillusioned by the lack of economic growth and high unemployment.
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