Sarkozy to shuffle cabinet after electoral defeat (Lead)

March 22nd, 2010 - 10:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, March 22 (DPA) French President Nicolas Sarkozy continued Monday to hold discussions ahead of a government re-shuffle following the ruling UMP party’s heavy defeat in Sunday’s regional elections.
According to French media, the biggest head to roll could be that of Labour Minister Xavier Darcos, whose slate of candidates received only 28 percent of the vote Sunday in the region of Aquitaine.

Eight government ministers stood at the head of conservative lists in the second round of regional elections, and all of them lost.

Slates headed by the Socialists and their left-wing allies received 53.79 percent of the vote Sunday, compared to about 35.37 percent for Sarkozy’s UMP. That represents the best showing by the Socialists in an election since 1981.

In addition, the Socialists won 21 of France’s 22 metropolitan regions, with only a UMP victory in Alsace preventing a left-wing “Grand Slam”.

The UMP won two of four overseas regions, but results there were clouded by local politicking and have little relevance for national affairs.

The far-right National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen also did well, averaging 18 percent in the regions in which it had candidates standing.

Monday, Sarkozy met with Prime Minister Francois Fillon to discuss the consequences of the defeat and changes to the cabinet.

Late Sunday, after the first projections announced a big victory by the opposition Socialists, Fillon went on national television to concede defeat and assume his “share of the responsibility”.

However, an adviser to Sarkozy said Sunday that the popular Fillon would not be handing in his resignation.

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