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. The FN won control of 11 towns and was on track to claim more than 1,200 municipal council seats nationwide, its best ever showing at the grassroots level of French politics and a stunning vindication of leader Marine Le Pen’s efforts to extend its appeal. It was also a night to savour for France’s main opposition, the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). The party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy performed strongly across the country, seizing control of a string of towns and cities, including some once considered bastions of the left.
France: One thing for sure in race for Paris mayor: A woman will lead the city for first time | The Washington Post
One thing is certain in the race to lead France’s cultural and political center: A woman will be mayor of Paris for the first time in the city’s 2,000-year history. The outcome of the conservative primary that begins May 31 is all but decided — Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, or NKM as she is often known, is widely considered the only candidate with a realistic chance. Her Socialist opponent in the March 2014 election will be Anne Hidalgo, the current mayor’s designated heir. The two have already begun to spar indirectly, notably over security and tourism in Paris, where ugly riots erupted earlier this month during a celebration to honor the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain. But they have distinctly different visions of how Paris should serve its 2.3 million residents and the 29 million people who visit each year. The race also includes other female candidates from smaller parties who are considered unlikely to win.