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Heavy losses likely for Sarkozy in local vote

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Heavy losses likely for Sarkozy in local vote

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The final round in French regional elections today is expected to bring bad news for President Nicolas Sarkozy.

His centre-right UMP party is expected to suffer heavy losses to the Socialist opposition and other left-wing parties.

The ballot is seen as the last electoral test for Sarkozy before presidential polls in 2012.

People are voting for councillors in 26 regions, 22 of them on the French mainland.

In the last elections, the UMP won control of only two of the regions, and today they may not even hold onto those.

With his popularity rating plunging, Sarkozy has already announced a pause in reform plans, which he has been pushing through at a fast pace. But he has poured cold water on talk of a cabinet reshuffle.

Also worrying for the main parties is the apparent surge in support for the far-right National Front.