Sarkozy Confers With Allies After French Left Takes Majority in Senate

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 12:15 pm (UTC-5)
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy has met with his top political allies after the Socialist Party and their left-leaning allies won a majority in the Senate for the first time in modern history.

Mr. Sarkozy early Monday summoned Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Jean-Francois Cope, the head of the conservative UMP party, to the Elysee Palace.

The Socialist Party now controls 177 Senate seats — two more than needed for an absolute majority. The party's victory over the conservatives comes just seven months ahead of presidential elections, leaving Mr. Sarkozy without a majority in the upper house as he prepares to announce an expected re-election bid. The conservatives maintain a majority in the National Assembly.

Though the Senate vote has no direct bearing on next April's poll, the defeat signals broad voter discontent with Mr. Sarkozy and his UMP party. Mr. Sarkozy will likely face Socialist Francois Hollande in the presidential election.

The French president is struggling with some of the lowest ratings of any recent French president. In addition to criticism over his government's handling of the economy and unemployment, Mr. Sarkozy is also embroiled in a corruption probe linked to arms sales.

Sunday's Senate election was an indirect electoral process comprised of approximately 72,000 elected officials casting their votes. The electorate is comprised of local mayors plus local and regional council members. April's presidential poll is a general election.