March 29, 2015 / 6:13 PM / 2 years ago

Sarkozy leads French local election, far-right makes voting gains: exit poll

Nicolas Sarkozy, former French president and current UMP conservative political party head, attends a political rally in the Essonne department as he campaigns for French departmental elections in Palaiseau, near Paris, March 16, 2015.Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - Ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative UMP party and its allies led in the second and final round of French local elections on Sunday, a BFMTV exit poll by pollsters CSA showed.

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front looked to have made gains, and could have won as many as two "departement" councils.

President Francois Hollande's ruling Socialists lost heavily and was expected to lose about half of the 61 departements it held before the election.

The UMP and its allies are set to secure between 66 and 70 departements, up from 41, the exit poll said.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrew Callus

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