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France - Has Sarkozy won first battle in the war to reclaim Elysée? - by Joseph Bamat

Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), in coalition with centrists of the Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI), claimed a resounding victory in departmental polls with 29.4 percent of all votes, according to interior ministry figures. The surging far-right National Front (FN) finished in second place with 25.2 percent of ballots, while the ruling Socialist Party (PS) and its allies came in third with 21.9 support.

The triumph appeared to cement Sarkozy’s return to politics four months after he took over as his party’s chairman. In a speech following results on Sunday night, the former head of state declared the ballot was also the beginning of a political sea change.

“French people want clear change that will start with these departmental elections,” Sarkozy told a crowd of supporters and reporters in Paris. “A new government is coming and nothing can stop it.”

Sarkozy, who was France’s president between 2007 and 2012, was making a direct reference to more important regional polls scheduled for December and presidential elections in 2017 – a contest in which he is widely expected to seek the UMP’s nomination.

Read more: France - Has Sarkozy won first battle in the war to reclaim Elysée? - France 24

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