Sarkozy's Party Trounced in Local Elections
French voice opposition to president's reforms
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2010 4:35 AM CDT
French President Nicolas Sarkozy casts his vote for the second round of the regional elections in Paris yesterday.   (AP Photo/Philippe Wojazer, Pool)

(Newser) – French voters delivered a stinging defeat to president Nicolas Sarkozy, voting against candidates from his Union for a Popular Movement in elections for regional councils. The Socialist/Green opposition coalition won 55% of the vote compared to UMP's 37%. "This is a real defeat for us" said Jean-François Copé, the UMP parliamentary leader. "The French have sent a message. We have to get back to our basic values."

UMP leaders acknowledged that the rout shows France's unease over Sarkozy's economic reforms. "The French are worried. They fear the loss of a way of life that is European. Our welfare protection is threatened, they say," Prime Minister Francois Fillon told the Times of London. Sarkozy will likely have a tough time getting anything done in the remaining 2 years of his term, as the emboldened socialist opposition angles for advantage.