Sarkozy reviews options after French poll defeat

Last Updated: Monday, March 22, 2010 - 08:58

Paris: French Prime Minister Francois Fillon will meet President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday to discuss the consequences of the ruling centre-right UMP party`s heavy loss in regional elections at the weekend.

Fillon said on Sunday he accepted his share of the blame for one of the worst defeats for the centre-right in decades, as voters punished the government for the weak economy, growing unemployment and often incoherent policy presentation.

Although Fillon is not expected to offer his resignation, some ministers look certain to lose their jobs in what one senior official predicted would be a "technical reshuffle”.

The UMP bloc was comprehensively beaten on Sunday, winning no more than three of France`s 26 regions and taking only 35.4 percent of the vote compared with 54.1 percent for the Socialists and their allies, according to preliminary results.

The far-right National Front scored 9.4 percent of the national vote but took more than 22 percent in its two core regions in the north and south to underline the scale of the loss for the centre-right.

Fillon said on Sunday that the government would press ahead with reforms that include an overhaul of the pensions system, and would make jobs and economic growth an "absolute priority”.

But the pressure for a change of course has been growing.

"The defeat of the right in the regional elections will mark a turning point in the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy," the conservative daily Le Figaro said in a front page editorial.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, March 22, 2010 - 08:58

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