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Socialists make gains in French Senate

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Latest update : 2008-09-21

While the right wing held onto its historic majority in France's Senate, the Socialist Party won more seats than expected in Sunday's elections.

France held elections Sunday to fill a third of the seats in the Senate, with the governing right-wing party expected to hold onto its majority despite some gains by the left in the upper house.
  
Elected councillors at the municipal, regional and departmental levels as well as National Assembly deputies -- close to 50,000 in all -- were casting ballots to choose 114 senators.
  
Twelve new seats have been added, bringing the Senate up to 343 members.
  
The upper chamber, which is overwhelmingly male and has an average age of 64, votes on laws passed by the more powerful National Assembly lower house.
  
Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande said he expected the left to gain between 10 and 15 seats.
  
The governing Union for a Popular Movement party holds 159 seats while the Socialists have 95, with the remainder divided among smaller parties.
  
The Senate has been dominated by the right since 1958.

Date created : 2008-09-21

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