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Socialists win legislative majority in France

PARIS — President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party coasted to a comfortable parliamentary majority in France's legislative elections Sunday, appearing to guarantee passage of his proposals designed to reinvigorate the economy and help the poor more easily weather Europe's stubborn debt crisis.

The Socialist victory, complementing Hollande's election as president in May, avoided the deadlock that would have occurred had a blocking majority gone to the conservative Union for a Popular Movement, the coalition of former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Reinforcing Hollande's authority at home, the majority strengthens his hand in tense negotiations with Germany over ways to relieve pressure against the euro, the common currency of 17 European nations.

"This evening there is a new parliamentary majority in France that conforms to the presidential majority," declared Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a veteran Socialist leader.

Socialists already control the Senate. In campaigning for the lower house, Hollande's followers used the threat of a legislative standoff with the conservatives to motivate voters despite a lackluster campaign that touched only marginally on the pressing economic issues facing France and the European Union.

Exit polls for the major French television stations gave the Socialists between 290 and 320 seats in the 577-member National Assembly. That meant the party had a majority even without its allies in the Greens movement and the far left National Front.

Two key players lose bids for office

Segolene Royal, a prominent French Socialist and the former companion of President Francois Hollande, lost her campaign for a parliamentary seat. Her campaign became embroiled in controversy last week after Hollande's current companion — journalist Valerie Trierweiler — expressed support for Royal's opponent, Olivier Falorni, on Twitter, seen by some as a show of jealousy.

In another parliamentary race, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen also lost, but her anti-immigrant National Front party will have its first seats in Parliament in years.

Socialists win legislative majority in France 06/17/12 [Last modified: Sunday, June 17, 2012 9:48pm]
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