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French reluctantly accepting far-right party into mainstream

The French are gradually accepting the far-right National Front (FN) into the mainstream even if many are still hostile to the anti-immigration party that made historic gains in local elections, analysts said Monday. The FN took the mayorship in at least 11 towns and won over 1,400 seats on municipal councils in Sunday's polls. That represented an unprecedented result and a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of a party that, beset by internal divisions at the time, only claimed around 60 seats in the last local vote in 2008.

EU aid to Africa comes as carrot, not stick

The head of the EU's huge aid programme to Africa warned on Tuesday that tying investment on the continent to democratic reforms risked backfiring if viewed as neo-colonialism. "I would always warn against linking the two things directly, because it seems like blackmailing," the European Union's Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told AFP. He emphasised that conditions on aid were necessary, but said African governments might view them as a "colonial tool".

PM Orban's party firmly leads in poll, far-right gains

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Public support for Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ruling center-right party has increased among all voters before the April 6 election and far-right Jobbik also managed to boost its standing, pollster Szazadveg reported on Monday. Its poll, conducted March 27-30, showed backing for Orban's Fidesz party rising one percentage point to 33 percent of all voters, while Jobbik also gained one point to 14 percent from the previous month.

France awaits Hollande's next move after poll debacle

"A rout", "A slap", "A kick up the backside": the headlines in France's newspapers on Monday left President Francois Hollande in no doubt about the scale of his Socialist Party's humiliation at the ballot box. After a "Black Sunday" that saw both the far-right National Front (FN) and the mainstream opposition make historic gains in nationwide local elections, Hollande was under intense pressure to react swiftly and decisively with a shakeup of his beleaguered government.

President Xi makes first-ever visit by Chinese leader to European Union headquarters

BRUSSELS - China's president is meeting with the top officials of the European Union to discuss the two sides' close business ties and their wider diplomatic relations. Xi Jinping on Monday became the first Chinese leader to visit the headquarters of the 28-country EU in Brussels. The EU is China's largest trading partner, while China is Europe's second-largest, trailing only the U.S. China and Europe trade well over 1 billion euros worth ($1.37 billion) a day.

Hollande set to swing axe after Black Sunday for France's Socialists

French President Francois Hollande is set to take the axe to his beleaguered government after it suffered humiliating losses in local elections in which the far-right National Front (FN) made historic gains. The outcome of the first nationwide vote since Hollande was elected in 2012 was described as "Black Sunday" by one Socialist lawmaker.

National Front to run at least 11 French towns

The far-right National Front will take control of at least 11 French towns with more than 9,000 residents after nationwide local elections Sunday, preliminary results showed. Interior Minister Manuel Valls had earlier spoken of "14 to 15" towns falling to the FN but that figure was not confirmed with most of the counting concluded. Valls apparently included a number of mayors from smaller far-right organisations in his projected total. Marine Le Pen, the FN's leader, said her party had won ten towns Sunday to add to the one it won in the first round of voting on March 23.

French reshuffle may loom after Hollande's Socialists routed in local elections

By Mark John PARIS (Reuters) - President Francois Hollande will take soundings on a possible cabinet reshuffle on Monday after the drubbing of his Socialists in local elections handed the far-right National Front victory in a record number of towns. Provisional results from Sunday's voting showed the protectionist, anti-EU party of Marine Le Pen set to take control of 11 towns across the country, easily surpassing a past record in the 1990s when it ruled in four towns.

Socialists hammered in French vote as far-right makes breakthrough

France's ruling Socialist Party suffered heavy losses in nationwide local elections Sunday which were marked by a breakthrough success for the far-right National Front. In a rare consolation on a bleak night for President Francois Hollande's party, the Socialists held on to control of Paris, where Anne Hidalgo will become the first female mayor of the French capital after a victory that was far more comfortable than anyone had expected.

Black Sunday for France's Socialists as far-right breaks through

France's ruling Socialist Party suffered humiliating losses Sunday in a local vote marked by breakthrough successes for the far-right National Front and the historic election of a first female mayor of Paris. On a day dubbed "Black Sunday" by one Socialist lawmaker, the National Front (FN) won control of at least eight towns and was on track to claim 1,200 municipal council seats nationwide, its best ever showing at the grassroots level of French politics. It was also a night to savour for France's main opposition, the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
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