French President Francopis Hollande has announced that he will not stand for re-election in the upcoming presidential poll amid low popularity ratings and a fairly high unemployment rate in the Western European country.
“Today I am aware of the risks that going down a route that would not gather sufficient support would entail, so I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election,” Hollande said in a live televised address broadcast on national television from the Élysée Palace on Thursday night.
He said his only concern was “the superior interest of this country” and that he could not stand for “the break-up of the left,” adding that his time in power had taught him “humility”.
The unprecedented decision comes as Hollande is the first incumbent French president since the Second World War not to attempt to run for second term in office.
The 62-year-old Socialist president’s satisfaction rating recently dropped to as low as four percent, the lowest for a French president since the war, prompting many of his aides to publicly warn against his certain defeat if he chose to run in the presidential race.
The Socialists now have to find a leading contender against Francois Fillon, of the center-right Republican party, and Marine Le Pen, of the far-right Front National.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls is thought to have higher success chances than others for a Socialist primary race in January. He has been praised by analysts and citizens as a tough law-and-order voice and pro-business reformist.
Pundits maintain that Hollande lacks the kind of toughness that Valls shows, and such personality trait could help the premier compete in the general election next spring.
Meanwhile, Fillon has reacted to the news of Hollande’s move not to stand for a second term, posting on Twitter, “This evening, the President of the Republic admitted clearly that his clear failure prohibits him from going any further.”
“This five-year term ends in political chaos and the collapse of power. More than ever, the recovery of France must be built on solid foundations,” the right’s presidential candidate added.
On November 27, Fillon won the country’s center-right party’s nomination in the presidential primary after his opponent and former Prime Minister Alain Juppe conceded defeat.
The French presidential election takes place next April and May.