Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and French President Nicolas Sarkozy suffered a string of surprised setbacks, when their respective parties were behind in the regional polls.
In Russia, the dominant ruling party United Russia was leading regional elections but suffered setbacks against the background of the economic crisis, results showed on Monday.
United Russia, whose overall leader is Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, won less than half the vote in some polls for regional parliaments and in a stunning reverse lost the election for mayor in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.
Similarly in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy's party licked its wounds after a first round battering in regional elections that saw the resurgence of the far-right National Front.
Results showed the opposition Socialists were set to crush the governing UMP party this coming Sunday in round two of the vote, the last major ballot held ahead of the 2012 presidential vote.
In the vote seen a key test of Sarkozy's popularity, the Socialists picked up 29.48 per cent in the first round in the 22 regions on the mainland and Corsica, ahead of the president's UMP party with 26.18 percent, results from the interior ministry showed. The Socialists also led in the four overseas territories. The outcome was seen as punishment for Sarkozy's party meted out by voters still reeling from the global economic slowdown that has sent French unemployment soaring to its highest level in a decade.