Rarely do local elections anywhere have such profound national resonance. In municipal elections on 30 March, France's governing Socialist Party (PS) lost more than 150 towns and cities. The centre-right UMP made huge gains, much more than expected.
France is now seeing widespread political disaffection, dramatic growth in support for the far-right National Front (though they too regularly endure their own scandals), and Hollande's government is regarded by most people as beyond useless. The scandal-riven republic seems to be seriously malfunctioning.
While Hollande may be elected France's first Socialist president in 17 years, it was under another socialist, Francois Mitterand that the National Front first made headways in response to austerity measures in the 1980s.