Thursday, 1 December 2016
BREAKING: Francois Hollande not stand for re-election
The surprise move throws the selection of a Socialist candidate wide open.
Hollande had been expected to seek a second term in the presidential office.
Hollande, who is France's most unpopular president in polling history, had until mid-December to say whether he will take part in left-wing primaries that will decide his camp's candidate in the April and May presidential election.
All recent polls foresee Hollande or any other Socialist candidate failing to pass the first round of the presidential election next year, predicting a run-off battle between centre-right candidate Francois Fillon and the leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen.
The Left goes deeply divided into the presidential election.
Several other Socialists, including ex-economy minister Arnaud Montebourg, have said they will take part in the party's primaries in January.
Another of Hollande's ex-ministers, Emmanuel Macron, and leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have said they will run in the presidential election, without taking part in the primaries.
There has been tension between Hollande and his prime minister Manuel Valls over the issue of the election. In an interview at the weekend, Valls raised the prospect of running in the primaries against Hollande.
Hollande beat then conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in an election in May 2012 after a classic leftwing campaign in which he targeted big business and pledged to raise taxes for high earners.
But his popularity soon began to decline with a perceived lack of leadership and flip-flops on key issues, particularly tax reform and security issues, as well as an unpopular labour reform which dismayed many on the Left.