“A warning,” headlines Libération in the wake of the second round of French cantonal elections. Although the extreme right Front National led by Marine Le Pen only topped the poll in two southern cantons — Carpentras and Brignoles — it nonetheless increased its share of the vote to more than 40% in many regions, and 11% nationwide. Libération reports that with a score of 18.6%, Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP was "the major loser, while the opposition Socialist Party obtained approximately 36% of the vote, which will leave the majority unchanged in most of the country’s departments. The first round of the election was marked by an extremely low turnout, a trend that re-emerged on Sunday when 54% of voters stayed away: "the second round of the cantonal elections confirmed that the electorate has little interest in the final election before 2012," writes the left-wing daily, which argues that the "increase in voter apathy is a testament to citizens mistrust of political leaders.” In short, “with a year left to run before presidential elections, French democracy is in a sorry state."
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