French Socialist prime minister hails defeat of far right in first-round local elections

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has praised the defeat of the far- right National Front in first-round local elections, and minimized the significance of the third-place finish of his own Socialist party.

The National Front was second in Sunday's vote with 25 percent, behind the conservative UMP party and its allies with 29 percent. Socialists and their allies had 21.5 percent, according to the Interior Ministry's official results.

Valls, speaking Monday on radio RTL, said he was "pleased in some way" to observe that the National Front's support was not as high as expected.

He called for all leftist candidates, including communists and environmentalists, to unite with the Socialists for the second round next Sunday.