08:21 GMT27 January 2021
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    Exit polls showed that France's Conservative UMP Party, led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, leads in the final round of French local elections on Sunday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — France's Conservative UMP Party, led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, leads in the final round of French local elections on Sunday, leaving behind incumbent president Francois Hollande's ruling Socialist Party, exit polls showed Sunday.

    Early results indicated that the UMP wins in more than 60 local councils, while ruling Socialists and their allies may lose about 30 departments, which is half of the 61 departments it held before the election, according to the BBC. The far-right National Front led by Marine Le Pen reportedly also made gains.

    French Prime Minister Manuel Valls admitted that the ruling Socialist Party had lost ground, and said that the National Front's gains and popularity showed a lasting change in France's political landscape.

    Sarkozy said that the election results indicated that French citizens rejected Hollande's policies.

    The Sunday's second and final round of French local elections is seen as a test case ahead of 2017's presidential election.

    France's two biggest cities Paris and Lyon were excluded from these election. Voters have been electing representatives in 101 departments charged with issues like schools and welfare.

    Nicolas Sarkozy held the office of a French president from 2007-2012. Sarkozy retired from political life following his defeat in the 2012 presidential election. In September 2014, Sarkozy announced that he is aims to run for the country's top position once again.


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