French voters punish Srkozy in regional elections

French voters went to polling stations Sunday, March 14, in regional elections forecast to punish French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party in the last ballot-box test before the next presidential vote. French voters cast ballot in a two-round election to choose 1,880 councilors for 26 regional councils, which are responsible for regional transport, secondary education and local economic development.
Resentment has been growing at Sarkozy’s policies over the sluggish economy and skyrocketing unemployment, which soared above 10%, with nearly three million people now out of their jobs in 2009. Social tensions are also being felt. The government’s public debate on “national identity” has raised racial sensitivities and been widely slammed as a divisive project that stigmatizes immigrants.