Islam Times reports from Reuters: According to the French Interior Ministry, with 86 percent of the votes counted, Sarkozy's center-right coalition received 32.5 percent of the vote as compared to 48 percent of the vote for left-wing parties, and 15 percent for Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front, which came very close to defeating conservatives.
Sarkozy's own party, Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), managed to obtain just 16 percent, barely ahead of the National Front, the polluting institutes stated.
The result bodes ill for Sarkozy's conservatives ahead of next year's presidential election in which the French president is expected to face uphill struggle to win a mandate for second five-year term in the face of rising mainstream contenders.
Meanwhile, Le Pen praised her party's performance in the first round of elections, saying that it was the best result the National Front have ever recorded in cantonal elections, which are not traditionally favorable to her party.
Early returns also show that the Socialist-led left-wing opposition has won about 25 percent of the vote.
The fateful second round of the elections for picking some 2,000 local councilors will be held on March 27.
A new opinion poll conducted by the French Institute for Public Opinion on March 12showed that more than seven out of 10 French people are unhappy with the performance of Sarkozy.
According to the survey, only 29 percent of respondents approved Sarkozy's actions in March compared with 31 percent in February.