President François Hollande will be the first president of the Fifth Republic that will not seek a second presidential term. The decision was announced on Thursday afternoon from the Elysee Palace in a short speech ending weeks of uncertainty in the divided French left. Hollande, whose support levels are on the ground, explained his gesture as a sign of “humility” in the exercise of power and also of “lucidity” in the face of the evidence of the lack of support that his person brings. “The exercise of power has never made me lose my lucidity … I am aware of the risks that my candidacy would entail, which does not meet all the consensus. I have decided not to be a candidate for the presidential election, I have decided not to renew my term,” Hollande said. In his speech, which many analysts consider one of the most emotional appearances of an outgoing president, the French leader has also taken the opportunity to summarize his five-year term. “Here is not a person, but an entire nation,” added the head of state as a conclusion, who has hinted that his gesture is in the interest of the country. Hollande, the most unpopular president of France in the last decades, had until mid-December to decide whether to participate in the Socialist Party primaries, but he has expressed his desire not to participate due to the pressure of the last days. With his resignation, the Socialist leader hopes that the Left will have better chances of winning: “As president I have to lead the state. As a socialist, I can not resolve the dispersion of the Left,” he said. All recent polls predicted that both Hollande and any other socialist candidate would not pass the first round of next year’s presidential election. The prediction puts François Fillon in the primaries last Sunday and the leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, in the second round battle. In this sense, Hollande has warned of the stalking of the extreme right. “The biggest danger is protectionism, it is closing ourselves. That will be the biggest disaster for the French,” said the president. And, regarding Fillon, the conservative candidate of Les Republicans, the French leader also did not think the best of his project for the country. In the last week there has been tension between Hollande and his Prime Minister Manuel Valls on the issue of the election. In an interview over the weekend, Valls raised the possibility of appearing in the primaries against the president. After the announcement of Hollande, attention is placed on the next steps that Valls will give. The left is deeply divided before the elections. Some socialist names, including former Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, have said they will participate in the party’s primaries in January. Another of the ministers of Hollande, Emmanuel Macron and the left-wing agitator Jean-Luc Mélenchon have said that they will run for the elections, without participating in the primaries. The president’s popularity was hampered by a perception of lack of leadership and his indecision on key issues such as tax reform or security problems: the country, currently under a state of emergency, has suffered two highly deadly attacks in Paris and Nice. The controversial labor reform, which has shocked many on the left, has worsened his prospects.
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