France's President Francois Hollande (R) speaks with supporters after voting in the first round in the French mayoral elections in Tulle, center France, March 23, 2014. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau)
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France's anti-immigrant National Front (FN) made strong gains in the first round of local elections on Sunday as President Francois Hollande's Socialists and his allies suffered losses, according to early exit polls.An exit poll by pollster BVA put Hollande's Socialists and their left-wing allies at 43 percent of the vote, trailing opposition conservatives who scored 48 percent.The National Front won an outright majority in the small northern town and Socialist bastion of Henin-Beaumont.Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault this week pressed the opposition UMP to urge its voters to back Socialist candidates in towns where it stood no chance, promising that the Socialists would do the same in a joint effort to keep out the FN.
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