PARIS — French pollsters say the governing Socialists lost ground to the conservative right in municipal elections Sunday that are seen as a referendum on embattled President Francois Hollande and certain to lead to a government shakeup.
Estimates showed the anti-immigration far right adding several towns to its victory bucket after a symbolic win in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont in last week's first round.
The low participation rate, estimated at no more than 62 percent, was expected to break an all-time record.
"It's a defeat firstly for the left. It's a sad evening," government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said.
The only good news for Hollande was solid indications by pollsters that the crown jewel, Paris, would remain in its hands with a win by Anne Hidalgo, 54, for six years deputy of Socialist Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe. She was battling another woman for the French capital, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet from the rival right.