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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).

Greek MPs adopt controversial bill tied to EU-IMF loans

Greece's parliament late on Sunday narrowly approved an omnibus bill of reforms tied to the country's next tranche of EU-IMF loans, the parliament speaker said. Despite 11th hour attempts by the opposition to delay the vote, parties backing the government carried the tough articles that had caused dissent within the coalition partners by a slim majority. The first article including controversial reforms for milk passed with 152 votes against 135 in the 300-member parliament.

French government braces for poll slap, FN surge

France's ruling Socialists were braced Sunday for a stinging setback in local elections set to be marked by a breakthrough for the far-right and the election of the first female mayor of Paris. A record low turnout was expected to exacerbate the Socialists' losses in their first nationwide electoral test since Francois Hollande was elected president in 2012.

Hungary's anti-Orban opposition holds last election rally

Tens of thousands of supporters rallied in Budapest on Sunday in support of removing Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban with a centre-left opposition alliance at next weekend's election. Orban's governing right-wing Fidesz party appears to have an unassailable lead in opinion polls, gaining between 32 and 38 percent in recent surveys compared to between 15 and 23 percent for the leftist opposition.

Far-right group seals appeal among discontented Hungarians

By Marton Dunai ESZTERGOM, Hungary (Reuters) - To launch its campaign for Hungary's parliamentary election, the far-right Jobbik party, accused by critics of anti-Semitism, chose as its venue a former synagogue with a plaque on the wall commemorating 500 local Jews killed in the Holocaust. The reaction was unsurprising: opponents turned up outside the synagogue in the city of Esztergom to protest at Jobbik's presence, they heckled party leader Gabor Vona as he arrived, and the confrontation was broadcast on the evening news.

Far-right set to cement gains in local French elections

French voters went to the polls Sunday for a second round of local elections that will likely cement gains for the far-right at the expense of the ruling Socialists and lead to a government reshuffle. With President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party facing a drubbing, popular Interior Minister Manuel Valls is widely tipped to replace current Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. Paris will also have a female mayor for the first time.
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