France regional vote

PARIS: France started voting on Sunday in regional polls forecast to punish President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling party, the last ballot-box test of his popularity ahead of the 2012 general election. Voters struggling with the aftershocks of the global slowdown are expected to severely punish the governing UMP party at the polls during the two-round vote on Sunday and March 21. It is the first election held in France since a year-long recession sent unemployment soaring to its highest level in a decade.