PARIS, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Socialist control of the French Senate is an omen for President Nicolas Sarkozy's defeat in the presidential elections, a Socialist challenger said.
Conservative Sarkozy "will go down in history as the president who lost the right its majority in the Senate -- in a way it's like a premonition of what will happen in 2012," Francois Hollande said after the left claimed control of the Senate, the first time the indirectly elected upper house will not be controlled by the right since the founding of France's Fifth Republic in 1958.
The Fifth Republic is France's fifth and current republican constitution, which replaced a parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system.
Hollande is the front-runner for his party's nomination for president.
Sunday's election results showed the left now controlled 177 Senate seats, two more than the 175 needed for an absolute majority.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon, appointed by Sarkozy, issued a statement Sunday night saying the left had made a "strong breakthrough" but the right would unite.
"The moment of truth will come next spring. The battle begins tonight," he said.
French Senate President Gerard Larcher, from Sarkozy's ruling center-right Union for a Popular Movement party, said the left "made a real push."
With the power shift, Larcher is expected to be voted out of his post, which is also the first in line of succession if France's president dies or resigns.
UPM President Jean-Francois Cope called the results "disappointing but not a surprise."
He said the Socialist victory was "in no way ... a disavowal of the government's policies," Radio France Internationale reported.