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"The economic crisis has cast its vote", La Tribune reports, the day after the first round of regional elections in France, which saw a low 48% turnout and the resurgence of the extreme right Front National (FN) party. With 11.7% of the vote overall, the FN will now stand in half of France's twenty six regions in the second round of run-offs scheduled for March 21. "The FN, which campaigned heavily against Sarkozy's policies, has come close to matching its 2004 performance," La Tribune notes.

Other big winners included the Parti Socialiste with 29.5% of the vote and Europe Ecologie, an environmentalist party, with 12.5%. The mainstream right attracted just 27% of voters. "Deeply unpopular", Sarkozy has announced he will put off reforms in the second half of 2011, "to break with his image as an overreaching president" ahead of the 2012 presidential elections, the paper reports. The socialists expect to use the second round of the regional elections "as an early primary to pick a socialist candidate for president in 2012".