France's Socialists to withdraw from two regions to block far-right

PARIS (Reuters) - The Socialist party will withdraw from the second round of regional elections in the north and southeast of France where the National Front made major gains on Sunday, in a move to block the far-right party, the socialist party chief said.

Socialist voters would be left to back conservatives in the two regions in a conclusive second round of voting on Dec. 13, party chief Jean-Christophe Cambadelis said.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen and her niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen polled more than 40 percent in both regions, with the Socialists and conservatives far behind.

In regions that are at risk from the National Front and where the Left was behind the Right, the Socialist party would help put up a “barricade” to the far-right, Cambadelis said in a speech at party headquarters in Paris.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Richard Balmforth