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French local elections 2014 Government Local government Poll

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Hollande tells Socialists to learn from poll failure

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Francois Hollande at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels March 21, 2014 REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule

French President François Hollande told ministers on Wednesday that they needed to "learn lessons" from the Socialists poor showing in local elections. They took just 38 per cent in Sunday's first round vote, nine points behind centre-right parties. Speculation is rife of a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle.

 

 


Learn the lesson or get another slap in the face. This is essentially what François Hollande told his ministers during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

If the Socialists don't heed the lesson of Sunday's municipal election, then they could get another hammering at the polls this weekend. Their poor score of only 38 per cent has already sent tongues wagging that there will be a major cabinet reschuffle, unless they manage to turn things round before Sunday's run-offs.

"We need to work more quickly for the country's recovery, with more strength, more consistency and more social justice", Hollande was quoted as saying.

But with new unemployment figures for February set to be released, Hollande's plan to win back voters could well backfire. January's figures were abysmal with over 3 million people registered unemployed. Many French people have now lost faith in his recovery pledges and capacity to roll back unemployment.

Voters punished Socialist candidates in the first round of local elections last Sunday. Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front made substantial gains and is on track to take control of up to 15 towns.

To halt the anti-immigration party, François Hollande is said to be preparing tax breaks for households. Taxes have risen dramatically during his first 22 months in power as he tries to shrink the country's deficit, but tax rises have instead shrunk his approval ratings which are at a record low.