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French left claims historic Senate vote victory
French left claims historic victory, wrested Senate from right for first time since 1958
By The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) ' France's left has claimed victory in elections for the Senate which has been controlled by the right for more than 50 years.

Such an outcome is a blow to conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Official results of Sunday's vote to fill half the Senate seats in an indirect election were not yet public, but the top Socialist senator announced victory.

Jean-Pierre Bel, head of the Senate's Socialist group, says the left won 24 to 26 new seats. It needed 23 seats to gain a majority.

Bel did not say whether his figures were projections. However, Senate President Gerard Larcher, a conservative, said that the left "made a real push ... larger than I thought."

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