Senate goes left
The upper house or Senate has been seized by the left for the first time since 1958. Although a few seats have still to be declared and then party groupings formed, the left won the 22 seats needed to take control of the house.
The main opposition Socialist Party (PS) along with the French Communist Party (PCF) and the Greens (VEC) will have enough seats to form the largest bloc and control the Senate.
The elections were indirect with an electoral college of around 72,000 local officials having the vote. The implications for President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) have still to be worked out, but clearly it will make the passing of legislation much more difficult just seven months before the presidential elections.
The Socialist Party will hold primaries for its presidential candidate on 9th and 16th October with François Hollande, the Socialist Party First Secretary, in the lead with around 44% in recent opinion polls. Six candidates are standing.