French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s uphill re-election battle isn’t getting off to a great start: his party, the center-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) faced a rout by the Parti Socialiste in the second round of the French cantonales, or regional elections. The socialists won 35 percent of the vote in the second round, up from 25 percent in the first round, while the UMP only saw a 3 percent bump. The cantonales are usually decided on local issues, but they’ve become a referendum on France’s deeply unpopular president, who has lately been trailing far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the polls. Le Pen’s party, the anti-globalization, anti-immigrant Front Nationale, fell in the second round of elections to about 10 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Demorats party also suffered a setback when it lost a key state in southern Germany to the Green party over fears about nuclear power.
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