March 16, 1998 in Nation/World

Socialists Expected To Gain In France

Compiled From Wire Services

With conservatives bickering, the ruling Socialist Party was expected to get a boost from local elections Sunday, the first major indicator of the party’s strength since it came to power in June.

A strong showing by the Socialists and their leftist allies would likely make it easier for them to continue reforms at the national level.

The vote comes at a promising time for the Socialists. Double-digit unemployment has started to fall - albeit slowly - and the economy is also picking up.

About 38 million voters were eligible to cast ballots Sunday. The election starts a two-week process of choosing officials to run 22 regions in mainland France and four overseas regions as well as about 2,000 cantons, subdivisions drawn up in the 18th century.

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