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Key politicians face defeat as Socialists eye victory

France’s left is expected to take over parliament for the first time in 10 years on Sunday, but election night also promises to be a critical crossroads for several prominent individuals, including longtime Socialist heavyweight Ségolene Royal.

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France’s parliamentary elections on June 17 are widely expected to hand the left its first majority in the lower-house National Assembly in a decade. The Socialist Party could even pull off an absolute majority, giving recently elected Socialist president François Hollande a strong mandate to usher in reforms.

The Socialist Party won the first round of the legislative poll on June 10. Their lead, however, was razor-thin and most of the parliament’s seats - 541 of the 577 total – are still up for grabs.

The UMP is battling to limit the damage of the Socialist tide, but also struggling to

rise above the surging far-right National Front party, which came in third in the first round with 13 percent of votes. UMP candidates are caught in 29 three-way runoffs against left-wing and far-right candidates.

Socialist heavyweight Segoléne Royal, the loser of France’s 2007 run-off presidential election, is locked in a poisonous duel with a rebel Socialist Party member who is challenging her ticket in the western city of La Rochelle. Her campaign has been swarmed by controversy following first lady Valérie Trierweiler’s decision to endorse her rival.

Royal is one of several prominent French politicians who face a critical test on Sunday. FRANCE 24 takes a look at the major players and the symbolic clashes that will define the 2012 parliamentary election.

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