PARIS - French President Nicolas
Sarkozy's conservatives lost ground to the left-wing opposition
and the far-right in the first round of nationwide local
elections on Sunday, according to initial estimates.
The decisive second round of the departmental elections for
some 2,000 local councilors will be held on March 27.
Projections broadcast by LCI television based on partial
results, showed the Socialist-led left-wing opposition winning
about 25 percent of the vote, with Sarkozy's center-right UMP
party set to take 16% and the far-right National Front
It was the last popular vote before next year's presidential
election, in which Sarkozy is expected to seek a second