French President François Hollande will give a televised address in Paris Monday at 8pm (GMT+2) amid rumours of a cabinet reshuffle after his Socialist party took a severe beating in recent local elections.
The outcome of the first nationwide vote since Hollande was elected in 2012 was dubbed "Black Sunday" by one Socialist lawmaker.
The far right Front National (FN) took control of 11 towns and was on track to claim more than 1,200 municipal council seats nationwide, its best ever showing at the grassroots level of French politics and a stunning vindication of leader Marine Le Pen's efforts to extend its appeal.
It was also a night to savour for France's main opposition, the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
The party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy performed strongly across the country, seizing control of around 140 towns and cities, including some once considered bastions of the left.
In a rare consolation for Hollande, the Socialists held on to control of Paris, where Anne Hidalgo, 54, will become the first female mayor of the French capital after a victory that was far more comfortable than anyone had expected.
Nationwide, the UMP and its allies took just under 46 percent of the votes cast, the Socialists and other left-wing parties 40.5 percent and the FN and some smaller far right groups just under seven percent.
The rout for the Socialists is widely seen as a punishment for Hollande’s failure to turn around the euro zone's second largest economy and to tackle an unemployment rate stuck at more than 10 percent.
These failures are thought to have aggravated anger over other issues, such as crime and immigration, and increased disillusionment with mainstream politicians of all stripes.
The Socialists were not helped by a turnout estimated at around 62 percent of the electorate, which is low by French local election standards and was largely explained by large numbers of left-leaning voters staying at home.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-03-31