Sarkozy Passes French Poll Test but Has Long Way to Go

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has put a faltering comeback back on track by steering his conservatives to victory over the far-right National Front in local elections, but major obstacles remain to his presidential ambitions. Sunday's results in the first round of voting mean his UMP party is well placed to make sweeping gains in the March 29 run-off for councillors in France's "departements", at the cost of President Francois Hollande's Socialists. That will silence critics who had written off Sarkozy's comeback only four months after he emerged from retirement, pointing to policy bickering in the UMP and surveys which show even right-leaning voters are not sure they want him back.