Francois Hollande, the French President, has announced he will not seek a second term in office - saying he wants to give his Socialist party a chance to win “against conservatism and extremism”.
Hollande, 62, said on French television that he was “lucid” about his chances of getting wide backing within the party, paving the way for Prime Minister Manuel Valls to seize the Socialist nomination in primary elections.
Some polls have seen his approval rating plummet to as low as 4%, making him the most unpopular President in French modern history, against a backdrop of a series of terror attacks. He said:
“Today, I am conscious of the risks that such a move would have if it doesn’t get widespread support.”
Hollande took office in 2012 and said he would seek re-election only if he was able to curb the unemployment rate, which has hovered for years at 10 percent.
A divided French political left faces being swept away by right-wing presidential candidates Francois Fillon and the National Front’s Marine le Pen
The first round in the presidential election is in April, and is seen as the next landmark global vote following Brexit and Donald Trump being elected US President.