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Front Nationale tipped to gain two southern towns

Front Nationale leader Marine Le Pen has celebrated her party's success with new mayor of Henin-Beaumont, Steeve Briois. Credit: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

Exit polls suggest candidates backed by France's far-right Front Nationale party are on track to claim victories in the southern towns of Beziers and Frejus in the local elections.

The FN already made a breakthrough in last week's first round of voting by winning power in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont.

Early gain for Front Nationale in French local elections

France's far-right Front Nationale party appears to have claimed a second town in the second round of local elections in which they are expected to make significant gains.

With polls in some areas already closed, ITV News Europe Editor James Mates has tweeted:

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Front Nationale candidate looks to have won the southern town of Beziers, the 2nd to fall to the far right in these elections #france

The anticipated success in Beziers contrasted with a defeat elsewhere for the party of Marine Le Pen, which took an outright victory in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont in the first round.

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Looking as if the Front Nationale have been soundly beaten in Avignon by the socialists. More results expected in 20 mins or so. #france

Despite that success, the governing Socialists - the party of President Francois Hollande - are braced for big losses while the centre-right UMP is expected to do well.

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Closer magazine to pay €15,000 to French actress Gayet

Closer magazine has been ordered to pay €15,000 (£12,400) to actress Julie Gayet for the publication of two pictures - one of her and the other of French President Francois Hollande in front of the same building.

Julie Gayet. Credit: Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

The French celebrity magazine claimed Hollande and Gayet were having an affair.

Watch: Hollande declines to answer affair claims question

National Front scores gains in French town hall polls

France's anti-immigrant National Front (NF) party has scored gains in first-round town hall elections and taken control of a former Socialist bastion as voters turned against President Francois Hollande and his left-wing allies.

Marine Le Pen, France's far-right National Front political party leader.
Marine Le Pen, France's far-right National Front political party leader. Credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The elections in thousands of constituencies across France were the first nationwide voter test for Hollande. A second round of voting is due next Sunday.

FN leader Marine Le Pen, who took over from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2011, said advances made in the first round already marked a major breakthrough.

While only fielding candidates in 596 out of some 36,000 municipalities across France, BVA estimated the FN had scored seven percent of the vote.

FN's candidate in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont, a former coalmining centre that had long been held by Socialists, was declared winner with an outright majority.

French court upholds trader conviction

France's highest court of appeal has upheld the conviction and three-year jail sentence of former Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel today, but overturned a 2012 civil ruling that fined him €4.9 billion (£4 billion) to match the bank's losses.

Former Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel Credit: Reuters

Kerviel's market bets brought the French bank to the brink of collapse in 2008.

A new civil trial will take place before the Versailles Appeals Court to decide on eventual damages.

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France sentences Rwandan ex-soldier for genocide role

A Paris court gave a Rwandan ex-soldier a 25-year jail sentence for genocide and crimes against humanity during Rwanda's 1994 genocide, in the first trial in France to punish those responsible for the three-month wave of violence.

Pascal Simbikangwa, 54, described by prosecutors as a former soldier who rose to become the No. 3 in Rwanda's intelligence services, denied the charges against him during the trial.

Under French law, Rwandans suspected of involvement in the genocide can be tried in a French court.

France ready 'to apply the necessary pressure' on Russia

French President Francois Hollande said he is ready "to apply all the necessary pressure" in order make Russia understand that negotiation is the only option regarding Ukraine.

He made the comments during the annual dinner of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions in Paris.

French President Francois Hollande speaking in Paris.
French President Francois Hollande speaking in Paris. Credit: APTN

Hollande said Russia has "taken the risk of a dangerous escalation" by deploying soldiers in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

"In these circumstances, France's role with Europe is to apply all necessary pressure including the possible use of sanctions to propose, to impose, a path to dialogue and to find a political solution to this crisis," he added.

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