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New PM, first female Paris mayor on agenda in French vote

French voters go to the polls Sunday for a second round of local elections that will result in Paris having a female mayor for the first time and, possibly, the country having a new prime minister. With the ruling Socialists facing a drubbing, President Francois Hollande is expected to react by ordering major changes at the top of his beleaguered government. Popular Interior Minister Manuel Valls is widely tipped to replace current premier Jean-Marc Ayrault.

French set to punish Hollande in mayoral runoffs

By Michel Rose PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande's Socialists braced for losses in hundreds of towns and villages in mayoral elections on Sunday, with far-right National Front candidates seen winning a handful of cities for the first time since 1995. The runoff round of voting comes at the end of a week that saw French unemployment surge to a new record, making a reverse of first round losses unlikely and a cabinet reshuffle by Hollande possible as soon as Monday.

Political newcomer Kiska trounces PM Fico in Slovak presidential election

By Jiri Skacel and Jan Lopatka BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Philanthropist and former businessman Andrej Kiska trounced Prime Minister Robert Fico in Slovakia's presidential election on Saturday as voters feared Fico and his center-left party would amass too much power. Results from over 99 percent of voting districts showed the politically unaffiliated Kiska leading the center-left prime minister by 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent.

Hungary's Orban guns for re-election touting 'racecar' record

More than 100,000 people filled Budapest's vast Heroes' Square to overflowing on Saturday as Hungary's right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, tipped to win re-election next month, touted his record. "We have transformed and renewed Hungary, we have turned an old banger with punctured wheels into a race car, even though half the world has attacked us," he told the crowd, which spilled into surrounding streets.

Huge pre-election march for Hungary's PM Orban

Tens of thousands of supporters of Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban marched through Budapest Saturday in a show of strength before a parliamentary election early next month. The crowd gathered at the parliament building on Kossuth Square in the Hungarian capital -- reopened earlier this month after a lavish renovation -- before a so-called "peace march" through the city centre.

Despair, poverty driving French to far-right FN

"We're dying here!" In Beziers and Perpignan the phrase has become something of a refrain of late, a shorthand way of explaining why the two southern towns are on the verge of falling into the hands of the country's resurgent far-right party, the National Front (FN). And they are not alone. Polls suggest between 10 and 15 mid-sized French towns could have FN mayors by the time ballot boxes close on Sunday in the second round of nationwide local elections.

Slovak underdog has chance to beat PM Fico in presidential vote

By Jan Lopatka PRAGUE (Reuters) - Slovakia's political heavyweight Prime Minister Robert Fico faces the threat of his biggest defeat at the ballot box from an underdog philanthropist in presidential election runoff on Saturday. Voters in the central European country gave the center-left leader a disappointingly lukewarm endorsement in the first round of voting two weeks ago amid fear the 49-year-old would amass too much power, which some see as unhealthy for democratic checks and balances.

British parties 'close to agreement' on more powers for Scotland

Britain's three main parties are coming closer to agreement on giving more powers to Scotland if voters reject independence, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was due to announce on Friday. The Liberal Democrat leader said his party, their coalition partners the Conservatives, and the Labour opposition had to offer the Scottish people opportunities if they opt to stay in the United Kingdom in the September 18 referendum. The three main UK parties are united in being firmly opposed to Scottish independence.

UK deputy PM and anti-EU rival trade barbs in debate

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg locked horns with the leader of the country's most anti-EU party on Wednesday in the first of two face-to-face debates ahead of forthcoming European Parliament elections. Clegg, leader of the Europhile Liberal Democrats, argued that Britain was "better off in Europe -- richer, stronger, safer", but UK Independence Party (UKIP) head Nigel Farage countered that the European Union was no longer fit to face the challenges of the modern economy.

Obama in Brussels for EU-US summit

President Barack Obama pays his first visit ever to European Union headquarters, cementing US-EU opposition to the takeover of Crimea after hitting out at Russian expansionism as a "sign of weakness". Viewed as the most important trip to Europe by a US president in years because of the crisis over Crimea, the visit will see Obama hold his first-ever summit talks in Brussels with the EU's top officials, a move seen as an ice-breaker.
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