France local elections: Conservatives hold off National Front

They took 32% of the vote, while the far-right National Front (FN) came second with 25%.President Francois Hollande's governing Socialists came third with 22%.The results mean the second round on 29 March will see a run-off between the UMP and the FN in many constituencies.Voters are electing representatives in 101 departments, or counties, charged with issues like schools and welfare.UMP leader Nicolas Sarkozy said the outcome of the first round demonstrated "the French people's profound desire for change"."The conditions for a massive swing back to the right and the centre are in place," he added.Mr Sarkozy also ruled out any "local or national" deals with the FN in constituencies where one of the two parties is involved in run-offs with the Socialists.In the past, voters for rival parties have rallied against the far-right group in the second round of voting.