Sept 26 - French left seizes Senate majority, dealing symbolic blow to Sarkozy ahead of 2012 elections. Marie-Claire Fennessy reports.
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL French President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative government loses its majority in the senate to the left. It is a historic defeat that deals him a blow just seven months before presidential elections. Early results showed left wing candidates took at least 23 seats from the ruling party, giving them an absolute majority. Socialist presidential candidate, Martine Aubry said this would make a difference. (SOUNDBITE)(French) SOCIALIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MARTINE AUBRY SAYING: "I think that now, we can truly say that the republic will be able to walk on its two feet. We'll make sure of bills that have been blocked here for a long time." The French sports minister was one of those not celebrating. (SOUNDBITE) (French) SPORTS MINISTER CHANTAL JOUANNO SAYING: "There is a feeling of sadness. To see the Left push ahead so sharply in the Senate is never a positive thing." The left's victory follows a series of wins by Socialist candidates in local elections. Though the left-leaning Senate will not be able to derail Sarkozy's legislative plans, this is a symbolic setback, especially when taken together with his poor poll ratings. Marie-Claire Fennessy, Reuters