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Elections

French Socialists announce new strategy to counter Front National

France's Socialists plan to work with other left-of-center parties to prevent the far-right from achieving a breakthrough in municipal elections. The FN made significant gains in the first round of voting.

The plans announced on Monday by the head of France's Socialist party, Harlem Desir (pictured above), are focused on municipalities where Sunday's first round of voting left candidates from the far-right National Front (FN) looking to have a decent chance of winning.

Desir said the Socialist party would join forces with the Communists and the Greens to present joint lists for the second round of voting, in a bid to deny victory to FN candidates in selected municipalities. He said the decision had been taken following consultations with the other two parties.

In some towns, such as Saint Gilles or Tarascon, where the Socialists polled below 10 percent in the first round, Desir said they would withdraw their candidates for the second round, in order to give those from other mainstream parties a better chance of beating the FN.

Setback for the president's party

President Francois Hollande's Socialists and their allies took just 38 percent of the vote in the first round, compared to 47 percent for the conservative opposition UMP of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and its allies.

This, coupled with a record-low turnout of just 61 percent, has been widely seen as an expression of the French electorate's disillusionment with Hollande's administration.

The FN, meanwhile, already claimed the mayor's seat in one town, where its candidate won over 50 percent of the vote in the first round. It is also sending candidates into a second round run-off in an unprecedented 315 municipalities.

The second round of voting is to be held next Sunday.

pfd/jr (AFP, dpa)

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