March 15, 2010, midnight
Opposition parties made strong showings against President Nicolas SARKOZY'S Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party in first-round regional elections last Sunday. The Socialist Party (PS) led the UMP 29 to 26 points, followed by the European Greens and Jean-Marie LE-PEN'S National Front with 12 and 11 points, respectively. The elections determine control over France’s regional councils, which manage budgets for local transport, education and economic development. National media outlets reported historically low turnout, with almost 54 percent of voters staying home. Under French law, any party which reaches the 10 percent threshold in the first round may continue onto the second round. Additionally, any party that garners 10 percent may form an alliance with any other party that receives at least 5 percent in the first round. The second round will be on Sunday, March 21.