Michel Euler, Associated Press
Socialist candidate for the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo casts her ballot during the municipal elections in Paris, Sunday, March 30, 2014. Voters in Paris and across France are going to the polls Sunday in municipal elections seen as a referendum on embattled President Francois Hollande's first two years in office. One bright spot for Hollande is the capital, where Hidalgo is favorite to defeat rival Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and keep Paris in Socialist control for another six-year term.
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.