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Big defeat for French’s Socialists party

France’s governing Socialists have suffered big losses in municipal elections with the opposition UMP claiming victory and the far right celebrating further gains.

UMP leader Jean-Francois Cope hailed what he called a “blue wave” of support for his centre-right party.

The far-right National Front was heading for victory in up to 15 towns, partial results indicated.

The Socialists have been hit by growing discontent over the economy.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault acknowledged the vote was “a defeat for the government and the [Socialist] majority”.

“This message is clear… The president will draw conclusions, and he will do so in the interest of France,” he added, in an apparent reference to a cabinet reshuffle.

It was unclear when a new government might be announced, or whether Ayrault would keep his job.

The Socialists were said to have lost 155 towns of more than 9,000 inhabitants, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said late on Sunday.

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