French President Francois Hollande Won’t Run For Re-Election
French President Francois Fillon announced today that he would not run for a second term as President of France:
PARIS — President François Hollande stunned France on Thursday when he announced that he would not run for a second term in next year’s presidential election.
In a televised address from the Élysée Palace, Mr. Hollande said that he was “aware of the risks” of a candidacy that would not “rally” enough people to it.
“I have thus decided not to be a candidate in the presidential elections,” Mr. Hollande said.
Mr. Hollande, a Socialist, ended weeks of speculation about his intentions to participate in a re-election bid that few observers thought he could win. He has had some of the worst approval ratings for a president in modern French history.
Polls had indicated that Mr. Hollande, who has struggled to significantly reduce unemployment and whose term has seen some of the worst terrorist attacks on French soil, would not make it past the first round of the elections, which will be held in April.
On Sunday, a socially conservative, budget-cutting former prime minister, François Fillon, won the center-right Republican Party’s nomination for president in a primary.
This means that Hollande’s Center-Left coalition will have to pick a candidate of its own to participate in the elections in April. After that, the question will be whether that candidate will be able to rise above the public dissatisfaction with Hollande sufficiently to qualify for the runoff election in May. As I noted earlier this week, as things stand right now polling indicates that the two participants in the runoff are likely to be Francois Fillon, who won his party’s nomination in voting on Sunday, and Marine Le Pen, the leader of the radical right National Front, thus putting the National Front closer to power in France than they have ever been before If a center-left candidate other than Hollande can get into the top two, that would most likely shut out the National Front and make the early May runoff a contest between them and Fillon, which is a much more conventional representation of how things have gone in France. If not, then the French will again be left with a choice between Fillon and a candidate that would take their country in an ominous direction, and whose victory, if it came, would have repercussions all across Europe.