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Elections 2014
Hollande names new PM as government resigns
President François Hollande with Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who is predicted to be France's next Prime Minister in the event of a government reshuffle.

Hollande names new PM as government resigns

The Local · 31 Mar 2014, 17:25

Published: 31 Mar 2014 17:25 GMT+02:00

Key points:

  • Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault quits
  • French President François Hollande speaks to the nation on TV at 8pm on Monday
  • Hollande replaces Ayrault with current Interior Minister Manuel Valls
  • National Front takes at least 11 towns, including Beziers and Frejus
  • The day was dubbed "Black Sunday" for the Socialists after losing dozens of big towns
  • Socialist Party candidate Anne Hidalgo elected first female mayor of Paris.

MONDAY: 

20:30 - To close the live blog here's a profile of France's new Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Thanks for following throughout the day.

20:10 - After an 8 minute pre-recorded speech Hollande's address to the nation is over. The most important point to come out of it was his nomination of Interior Minister Manuel Valls as France's new Prime Minister. He also told the nation he had heard their message after the heavy defeat for The Socialist party in the local elections on Sunday.

Hollande also said he intends to lower taxes for the French people and vowed to push ahead with his "Responsibility Pact" aime at lowering payroll charges for companies in an attempt to increase employment.

20:04 - It's official! Hollande names Valls as the new Prime Minister of France.

20:00 - French president François Hollande set to speak to the nation.

19:50 - Manuel Valls has been tipped for the top for a long time. This is what The Economist wrote about him back in December 2012.

"In less than a year the 50-year-old Mr Valls has been transformed from a pesky, upstart outsider into France’s most popular politician.

The son of a Catalan artist who obtained French nationality as a 20-year-old, Mr Valls was snubbed at the Socialists’ 2011 presidential primary. His outspoken views, echoing Tony Blair, who modernised Britain’s left, were deemed risqué. Instead of peddling false dreams, he argued that politicians should tell the truth: thanks to its huge public debt, France faced an “effort equivalent to that after the second world war”, and not all problems could be resolved by spending more.

For his pains, he got less than 6% of the vote. Yet today Mr Valls tops the polls with a handsome 61% rating, seven points up on a month ago. He is increasingly talked of as a possible prime minister. To the irritation of some colleagues, the Nouvel Observateur, a left-leaning magazine, put him on its cover under the title “The vice-president”."

19:38 - Check out this video of Manuel Valls as a young Socialist militant. It's in French, but Valls talks about the need to find young people jobs. "The main problem for young people is unemployment. What is the point of school if they end up unemployed."

19:16 - Manuel Valls may be a popular choice with the public, but not so much within his own party it seems. Housing Minister Cecile Duflot, from the Greens group has refused to serve under Valls in the new government, according to reports in France. So that's one job up for grabs then. Will it go to François Hollande's former partner Segolene Royal, who is keen on a return to the fold.

19:04  - Manuel Valls, as his name suggests is Spanish. He was born in Barcelona nad became a naturalised French citizen in 1982. He is quickly moving his way up the ranks. And don't be surprised if he ends up in Hollande's job one day. Valls put himself forward to be the Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 presidential election, before pulling out and supporting Hollande's bid.

19:00 - This is the latest from AFP on the expected appointed of Spanish born Manuel Valls as the French Prime Minister.

"Valls is popular in the country but not so much in his own party, where he is regarded with suspicion by many on the left.

"Appointing him as prime minister is a decisive move by Hollande but, as with his switch to a more business-friendly economic policy earlier in the year, it comes with risk of exacerbating internal party tensions.

"These are already acute because of misgivings on the left over Hollande's decision to give priority to austerity measures designed to get the country's budget deficit under control rather than seeking to attack unemployment by trying to stimulate demand, notably through measures to increase the spending power of the poorest sectors of society.

18:57 - So Jean Marc Ayrault lasted less than two years in the job. That's unlike his predecessor François Fillon who served as Prime Minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy for the full five years of his presidency.

18:50 - Marine Le Pen has already launched an attack on the incoming Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Le Pen says Valls's record as Interior Minister is "deplorable". She also calls him a "dangerous" man who has "no respect for public freedoms".

18:05 - The Prime Minister's office at Matignon announced the resignation of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and his government just before 6pm. Ayrault and his 38 ministers have all quit ahead of a reshuffle by Hollande. Interior Minister Manuel Valls looks a shoe-in for the top job and there will no doubt be some other new faces around the cabinet.

18:00 - BREAKING NEWS: The French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has officially resigned.

17:54 - Manuel Valls is a controversial figure and loves a good row, but he has proved popular among those on the right, which may be a move by Hollande to appease the opposition party. He also recently admitted he dappled with smoking pot when he was younger, but that shouldn't stop him getting the second most powerful job in French politics.

17:43: AFP now say their sources have confirmed that current Interior Minister Manuel Valls, the man dubbed "The Sarkozy of the Left" for his tough stance on security issues will be named as the new PM tonight by President François Hollande.

17:36 - Word is spreading on Twitter anyway that Prime Minister Jean Marc-Ayrault has handed in his resignation and it has been accepted. There's been no confirmation of this. But it may come tonioght when Hollande addresses the nation in a short recorded speech,that will be broadcast at 8PM.

This tweet is from a political journalist for French TV channel LCI. She claims one of Ayrault's aides says his resignation has been accepted.

17:15 - BFM TV are reporting that François Hollande has chosen Internior Minister Manuel Valls to be his new Prime Minister. 

17:05 - BREAKING NEWS: President François Hollande to speak to the nation at 8pm on Monday. The programme will be recorded and will be broadcast by any television channel that wants to, according to reports. Will he announce that reshuffle? What can he say to appease the public who voted heavily against his party.

17:00 - "The question we should not be asking is who has won and who has lost these elections. But why collectively have we lost. It is France who has lost." Those words were from Pierre Gattaz, the head of French business association Medef in reaction tothe local election results.

16:37 - More fallout from the far-right victory. In addition to Beaucaire potentially losing its sister city in Belgium (no!), the town is also going to be out one electronic music festival due to voters choosing a National Front mayor. The 'Positiv Festival' is looking for new dance floors because its values are "incompatible with the withdrawal and the rejection of other" that is incarnated by the FN.  

16:27 - One of the new far right mayors has an interesting story. Robert Menard used to defend human rights for the Reporters Without Borders watchdog, but on Sunday he was elected mayor of Beziers with the backing of the National Front. Menard is not a signed up member of the FN but is said to believe in 80 percent of their policies, including the party's stance against immigration. You can read more about him by clicking here.

15:56 - Here's more on that story of a French minister suspected of not declaring her assets. Yamina Benguigui could be in trouble if it's found out she lied on her official declaration of assets.

15:45  -  Plenty of speculation around the web about what might happen in the expected reshuffle. Many believe Segolene Royal, Hollande's former partner could make a return to the top. Her relations with Hollande have remained cordial over the years despite their split and Hollande's subsequent secret tristes.

Others are speculating more outlandish comebacks. That of DSK. The man, known as "Disgraced DSK" after the Sofitel hotel scandal was all set to become the President at one point, until he got caught with his pants down, one time too many. "DSK to return as saviour", said one tweeter. Surely not.

Others want more than just a reshuffle. They want the head of the man at the top."We are talking about a reshuffle and the departute of Ayrault (The PM) but the real solution would be the departure of Hollande," said one angry tweeter.

15:05 - "The French Left is at breaking point" (moment de rupture), says centrist François Bayrou. And it "cannot be avoided" he says.

15:00 - Reports in France suggest Defense Minister Jean-Yves le Drian has turned down Hollande's offer to become Prime Minister. Le Drian has apparently decidedto support Manuel Valls's nomination instead. Those claims are from various media sources.

14:55 - More on Minister Yamina Benguigui from AFP:  France's minister in charge of relations with French-speaking countries, Yamina Benguigui, is suspected of lying about her assets, a state-appointed transparency watchdog said Monday.

Francophonie Minister Benguigui has repeatedly and formally denied media allegations that she had failed to declare assets of up to €430,000 ($592,000).

14:30 - As if things couldn't get worse for François Hollande. Reports on Monday say his minister Yamina Benguigui is suspected of having lied in her declaration of assets, last year. Benguigui is the minister in charge of the Francophone countries. 

13:55 - The jubilant leader of the opposition UMP party Jean-François Copé has said he wants to meet Hollande to talk about a power sharing deal.  He beleives The Socialists have lost the right to govern without the oppostion.

Copé was also happy with his party's results.

"I set the objective of taking control of 50 percent of towns with more than 9,000 inhabitants, we actually reached 62 percent," he said. "It is a historic score. It is not just the government lineup that has to change, it is the entire direction of the country."

13:52 - Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said Hollande was virtually certain to make a televised address to the nation, but there was no confirmation from the Elysee Palace, where a pack of reporters had gathered from early morning in keen anticipation of a ministerial bloodletting.

13:37 - Not all foreign towns are eager to cut their relationship with the French towns they are twinned with. A spokeswoman for the German town of Triberg, which is twinned with Frejus - won by the National Front last night - told our colleagues at The Local Germany that the French election results would not affect relations.

"There is no need to change," she said. "We have a very good partnership with them and it is not dependent on the people in charge or their mayor. We like this partnership very much and we will go on working with them."

13:33 - Another Belgian town is looking at cutting ties with a French sister city after the election. The centrist mayor of Arlon, which is twinned with Hayange, said he would propose severing its relationship with Hayange, which elected a far-right National Front Mayor on Sunday. Mayor Vincent Magnus said "We don't share the same values," and added "If a National Front elected official came to Arlon he would not be welcome." 

12:40 - The (symbolic) fall out of the far-right's historic victory has began. The Belgian town of Farciennes has suspended "relations" with its "sister city" Beaucaire in France, which elected a far-right National Front mayor on Sunday. Farciennes Socialist Mayor Hugues Bayet said "politically we can't continue to work with people who develop such theories and such ideas." Will more towns follow suit?

12:35 - President Hollande had a two hour meeting with his Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault this morning according to reports. Hollande was also set to meet Interior Minister Manuel Valls later in the morning but that meeting was put back. 

12:25 - A BVM poll out today says Interior Minister Manuel Valls is the favourite candidate among French voters for Prime Minister. With 31 percent of voters putting his name forth, he's far ahead of his closest competitor, Lille Mayor Martine Aubry, who has the backing of just 17 percent of French voters. On the other end of the spectrum, current PM Jean-Marc Ayrault is widely disapproved of by the French, with 74 percent saying he should step down, per the poll. The people have spoken?

Manuel Valls with his wife (AFP)

12:13 - RTL radio is reporting that a reshuffle of President François Hollande's cabinet is 'imminent', but provided no more detail than that.

11:50 - The figures are changing slightly all the time, but basically to give you an idea of how bad it was for the Socialists, they lost control of 151 towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants. The right on the other hand won 142 new towns, hence why it has been heralded as the conservatives best showing in local elections in the history of the Fifth Republic. The far-right have picked up at least 11 towns according to the latest estimates.

11:35 - Not every political expert in France believes Sunday was big night for the National Front. Jean-Yves Dormagen from Montpellier University told left-leaning newspaper Liberation: "If we look at things objectively, the FN remains a relatively weak force at local level.

"The National Front won mostly small or medium sized towns and the overall number won (11 at the latest estimates) is low given that France has 980 towns with over 10,000 inhabitants. In fact these victories are the least you would expect for a party that regularly polls between 15 percent and 20 percent of the vote in national elections".

11:30  - It's worth noting that National Front also suffered some disappointments last night. The party lost out in Avignon, after leading the vote in the first round last week. The FN also failed to win the town of Forbach in eastern France where the party's number two Florian Philippot was running for mayor. He had also lead after the first round of voting. The FN also lost out in Perpignan and Saint Gilles where high profile candidates had been hoping to bring victory.

11:17 - This is the front page of the website French daily Le Figaro, with the headline: "Debacle in the municipal elections, the deficit slip-up, the left is reeling” with the defecit lapse referring to the story that emerged on Monday showing France's debt in 2013 was higher than estimated.

11:10 - And here's a map of the results across France from Le Figaro. It looks a bit like a Jackson Pollck painting but it's interactive if you click on the link here.

11:00 - Here's a photo of the one bright spot for the Socialists on 'Black Sunday'. The new Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo  - the first women to run the City of Light - is given a big kiss by outgoing Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë as they celebrate victory for the Socialists over centre-right UMP candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.

 

10:50 - Here's a map by Europe1 of how Paris and its surrounding towns voted on Sunday. It shows how divided the city is between east and west. 

10:44 - Here is a round-up of some of the harshest headlines from the French press after the left's major drubbing in the municipal elections on Sunday.

Le Monde: “Hollande must react if he doesn’t want to give the impression he is deaf”

Le Parisien: “Municipal elections 2014: An historic rout for the left”

Le Figaro: “Debacle in the local elections, the deficit slip-up, the left is reeling”

Libération: “Punished”

10:40 - Le Point news site reporting that François Hollande isset to announce a reshuffle of his beleagured troops in the coming hours. Stay with us to find out if France will have a new Prime Minister.

10:28 - The National Front is in control of at least 12 towns around France. Given there are 36,000 communes, town and cities choosing new mayors, 12 does not seem to be that many. So why all the fuss? Political expert Jean-Yves Camus from think-tank IRIS (Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques) tells The Local why it would be a mistake to dismiss the significance of the FN's showing.

"It’s a foothold. It’s a chance to show the French people that they can be a mainstream political party capable of running towns. Many politicians from the mainstream centre right UMP party said, “It’s only 12 towns” and they focused on that, but it’s a mistake. Once you buy the land then you can build something, and that’s what the National Front will be hoping to do. 

"They have these 12 towns and they want to show they can run them. Then they will look to achieve similar significant results in future French elections."

The analyst described it as the most significant electoral breakthrough by a far right party in Europe since Greece in 2012.

To read more about what Camus had to say you can CLICK HERE.

10:21 - Tough words from conservative UMP Deputy Bruno Le Maire who said voters punished the "lies", "the failure" and "the lack of François Hollande's authority." Ouch.

10:16 - Paris's first woman mayor, Anne Hidalgo, is being celebrated this morning in headlines across the Andalousian region in Spain. Why? She is a native Spaniard, who moved to France with her family from Andalousia when she was a baby. 

10:02 - The 'blue wave' of conservative victories in France also swept 14 far-right mayors into power on Sunday night. The vast majority of the top jobs, 11 in total, went to National Front candidates.

Robert Ménard in Béziers

David Rachline in Fréjus

Fabien Engelmann in Hayange

Marc-Etienne Lansade in Cogolin

Julien Sanchez in Beaucaire

Franck Briffaut in Villers-Cotterêts

Philippe de La Grange in Le Luc

Joris Hébrard, in Le Pontet

Cyril Nauth in Mantes-la-Ville

Stéphane Ravier in the 7th sector of Marseille

Steeve Briois in Hénin-Beaumont

Philippe de Beauregard in Camaret-sur-Aigues

Jacques Bompard in Orange

Marie-Claude Bompard in Bollène

09:45 - An angry crowd chucked eggs at the newly elected National Front mayor in the tiny northern France village of Villers-Cotterêts. He later told reporters "Threats, they roll off me like water off a duck's back."

09:25 - The first female mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo says there needs to be change of government. Her victory in Paris was the only bright spot on a day dubbed "Black Sunday" for the Socialist Party. She said François Hollande rang her up to congratulate her saying it was "one piece of good news in an ocean of bad news". 

09:12 - French PM wanted to resign - That's what Europe1 are reporting on Monday morning. They say PM Jean-Marc Ayrault was ready to carry the can for the local elections debacle and was ready to hand in his resignation on Sunday night, before his aides talked him out of it. Whether that's true or not, most feel that Ayrault will be dumped by Hollande at some point this week.

09:10 - The latest figures show the left lost 155 towns with more than 9,000 inhabitants in the 2014 local elections. That's why Socialist Party big wigs like Segolene Royal, the former partner of the current president has talked about them being handed a "severe warning" by the French public. 

08:56 - Marine Le Pen is confident her newly elected National Front mayors wil be able to prove they can run their towns. "We will show that our elected candidates can be good mayors," a delighted Le Pen said, hailing a historic breakthrough for the party founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.

08:50 - Here's some context from French political expert Jean-Yves Camus from the Institut des Relations Internationales et Strategiques. He told The Local on Monday morning that Sunday's local elections "was the most significant electoral breakthrough for any far right party in Europe", barring what happened in Greece. We'll have more from Camus shortly.

08:50 - The number of towns taken by the National Front has been revised down. Last night the Interior Minister Manuel Valls talked about 14 towns falling under FN control.  But on Monday it now seems the far-right party will take control of at least 11 French towns with more than 9,000 residents after nationwide local elections Sunday, preliminary results showed.

Valls had earlier spoken of "14 to 15" towns falling to the FN but that figure was not confirmed with most of the counting concluded. Valls apparently included a number of mayors from smaller far-right organisations in his projected total.

Marine Le Pen, the FN's leader, said her party had won ten towns Sunday to add to the one it won in the first round of voting on March 23.

08:45 - If you missed all the action from Sunday then you can click here for a summary of what proved to be a dramatic night.

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SUNDAY: AS IT HAPPENED

22:30 - Hollande will speak to the nation on live TV tomorrow night. What will say? What can he say? He will atleast name a new PM, it seems.

22:16 - "This message is clear. It must be perfectly understood," says French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. Most people think Ayrault won't be around much longer to show he understands that message. Hollande looks set to move him aside this week.

22:10 - Wondering why the French vote for the National Front? Here's the view of expert political analyst Jean-Yves Camus.

22:05 - Anne Hidalgo, who becomes the first female mayor of Paris will now join an exclusive club of women who have taken charge of major cities around the world. Members currently in office include Ana Botella, the mayor of Madrid, Cape Town's Patricia de Lille and Carolina Toha, who runs Santiago, Chile. After losing the first round last week, Hidalgo would have had a few doubts this week, but in the end it was a comfortable win.

22:03 - Keep the tweets coming in. Plenty of people out there who think France needs a change at the top.

21:58 - National Front now talking about gaining 12 towns in total. That's according to National Front MP Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, who is the granddaughter of the party's found Jean-Marie Le Pen.

21:49 - How will Hollande react to the hammering in his first elections since he was elected president in 2012? It looks like Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is going to be the fall guy. Plenty of speculation that he will be replaced even as soon as Monday.  Manuel Valls, known as the 'Sarkozy of the Left' due to his tough talking around issues such as crime, looks a shoe-in for Ayrault's job, should he be pushed aside.

21:48 - More reaction from Socialist Party bigwigs. "We have had a very severe warning," acknowledged Segolene Royal, Hollande's former partner who is tipped for a return to government in the reshuffle that is expected to follow in the wake of Sunday's electoral debacle.

21:44 - Marseille is well and truly right. UMP candidate Jean-Claude Gaudin has been re-elected for his fourth mandate. No real surprise there.

21:42 - A reminder of a result that will please culture vultures. Avignon was won by the Socialists which means the famous festival will stay put. The organiser had threatened to move it, if the town had been won by the National Front.

21:36 - While all talk will be about the National Front, the main party on the right - the UMP has had a good night with leader Jean François Copé hailng their best ever showing in the local elections. The UMP candidate has beaten the incumbent Socialist Party mayor in the town of Caen, as well as in numerous other towns...

21:28 - Paris stays Left - The Socialists are at least celebrating in the French capital. She has just tweeted "Thank you Paris!"

21:24 - This has to be an embarassing blow for the government. Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici was beaten in the town of Valentigny in the Doubs department. The local population are clearly not fond of the minister, charged with leading the French economy out of recession.

21:19 - Reports of more victories for the National Front coming in. Le Parisien claims the far right party has taken control of the town of Luc in the Var region. The extreme right candidate has also won the town of Camaret-sur-Aignes in the Vaucluse. It looks like the National Front has picked up at least nine towns so far. Not confirmed yet.

21:11 - Remember Anne Hidalgo polled less votes in last week's first round than NKM. But then made a deal with the Greens in the week, which appears to have helped her get over the line. She also won in the key 14th arrondissment where NKM was standing. It's been a bad night for the Socialists, but at least they appear to have kept hold of Paris.

21:04 With the Socialist Party's Anne Hidalgo looking like she has become the first female mayor of Paris, find out what she told The Local she wants to do, or not do in Paris.

21:02 - Martine Aubry, a Socialist Party stalwart has been re-elected in Lille. Could she be drafted into the government on Monday if Hollande shuffles his troops?

20:58 - Polls say Hidalgo has picked up 55.5 percent of the vote in Paris, compred to 42 percent for NKM. Need to stress these are based on poll results, but that's enough for some Socialist Party supporters in Paris, who are already celebrating. 

20:55 - Initial results say Anne Hidalgo will be elected mayor of Paris, according to BFM TV. That's history in the making there as Hidalgo will become the first woman in charge of the City of Light, if confirmed.

20:54 - So it looks like the FN have taken seven towns in France, according to reports.

20:46 - Certain people in the town Frejus are clearly not happy about the prospect of their town being run by the National Front. There are reports of around 100 people gathering outside the Town Hall shouting anti-FN slogans, insults etc. The situation is very tense according to witnesses.

20:43 - Le Pen claims the National Front have already won six or seven towns naming "Beaucaire, Villers-Coterêt , Cogolin, Hayange". Add Frejus and Beziers to those four, which were announced earlier on.

20:40 - More on the National Front from AFP -  As ballots closed, the National front (FN) said it was on track to claim 1,200 municipal council seats nationwide in what one prominent activist described as the biggest electoral success in the party's history.

Exit polls indicated that candidates backed by Marine Le Pen's party had secured the mayor's seat in the southern towns of Beziers and Frejus, but missed out on key targets elsewhere.

"We have moved onto a new level," Le Pen said. "There is now a third major political force in our country."

20:36 - Send us your tweets as the results come in.

Story continues below…

20:35 - Reports of trouble in the town of Frejus, which was won by the National Front on Sunday. Youths hostile to the far right party have been in minor clashes with police. We'll keep you posted. 

20:31 - Vote breakdown from BVA polling agency - The Left has picked up 42 percent of the vote, the right 49 percent and the National Front 9 percent. - Those are initial results and may be revised throughout the night.

20:28 - According to L'Express website, the National Front candidate Julien Sanchez has declared himself victor in the town of Beaucaire in the Gard.  Not confirmed yet. But that would be a third victory of the night for the National Front.

20:23 - The National Front party are hailing its 'biggest victory in history'. BFM TV have just shown jubilant scenes from the town of Beziers in the south, which the National Front have won today. But will they get anymore towns?

20:20 - The word going round is that there will be a reshuffle in the government tomorrow. Looks like Jean-Marc Ayrault's days as Prime Minister could be over. Who will Hollande name in place of Ayrault if he does decide to ditch him?

20:15 - The big winner from the 2014 local elections, looks certain to be the centre right UMP, the party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy. The UMP has already won numerous seats from the left. The UMP leader Jean-Francois Copé has hailed the "blue wave - the first major victory for the right in local elections".

20:13 - Government spokesperson Najat Vallaud-Belkacem says: "THese are bad results for the Left. Disappointing." That's probably putting it lightly.

20:07 - As expected exit polls suggest heavy losses for President François Hollande 's Socialist party.

20:07 - Big result if this is confirmed. Exit polls suggest the Socialists have at least held onto Avignon. The National Front had threatened to take the historic town. 

20:00 - The National Front have taken the towns of Frejus and Beziers, initial exit polls suggest. That's coming from Le Point website. That would be two more towns for the National Front to go with Henin-Beaumont that they won last week.

19:54 - It has nothing to do with local elections, but probably the highlight of the political week in France was when a minister provoked uproar by slamming the presidential palace's state dinner for the Chinese president as "disgusting". Find out more here (And then come back for the results)

19:50 - The National Front are set to acheive historic results tonight for local elections tonight. Find out why the French are voting for the anti-EU, anti-immigration party.

19:43 - Sad news from the commune of Vibrac in the region of Charente. Philippe Sauty, who was due to be sworn in as the mayor tonight committed suicide on Saturday, local media report.

19:35 - One of those elected last week was Robin Reda, who at 22-years-old is the youngest mayor in France. Reda has dubbed himself "The Crocodile" and is hailed as a political star for the future. He had posters of government ministers on his walls when he was a teenage boy. CLICK HERE to find out more about him.

19:32 - It's worth remembering that around 30,000 of the 36,000 towns, villages and communes have already elected their mayors last week. Only the ones where one party did not achieve 50 percent of the vote have gone to the second round this week.

19:23 - Voter abstention for the second round looks as though it is once again high. Estimates are putting it as 38.5 percent, which spells bad new for the Socialist Party. In the 2008 the abstention rate was 34.9 percent. A high abstention rate is predicted to be good news for the National Front, who are chasing a number of mayorships.

19:21 - The first indicative results should come in, when the polls close around 8pm French time. 

19:00 - This time last week French President François Hollande and his Socialist Party were about to get a bloody nose in the first round vote of the local elections.

Things could get even worse tonight in the crucial run off. Of France's 36,000 towns, villages and communes, around 30,000 have already elected their mayors and councillors in the first round, but around 6,000 will be decided tonight, including Paris, where the Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo, pictured below voting, is expected to sneak in with a slender victory. Other major French cities like Lyon, Marseille and Lille will also be decided tonight. 

Other key cities to keep an eye on are Avignon and Perpignan in the south, where the National Front could pull off shock victories that will send minor tremors around French politics.

Our political expert Nonna Mayer from Sciences Po university in Paris has predicted signficant wins for the National Front as well as a bad night for the Socialists. You can read more of what Mayer thinks will happen in  the run-off vote by clicking here.

For a re-cap as to what happened in the first round of the vote you can CLICK HERE

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Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

France is the only country in Europe to have seen a net drop in foreign investment this year...

Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
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Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
Lifestyle
New map reveals Paris flat prices by Metro station
Culture
Paris: Here's how to find French cinema in English
Culture
How to say 'OUCH' in French (and ten other sounds)
National
Get ready: France to be hit by week of transport strikes
Culture
France readies for first national 'motorway party'
National
Is this the eco-solution to France's wild-peeing plague?
Sport
Paris mayor wants Seine to be 'swimmable' before Olympics
National
IN PICTURES: Police car torched in Paris protests
National
Why there's another rail strike in France and more to come
National
Why does 'everyone in France hate the police'?
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