French President Francois Hollande said that he will not seek another term, clearing the path for a presidential bid by his pro-Israel prime minister Manuel Valls.
Hollande, whom polls give a single-digit approval rating, made the shock statement on Thursday during a televised speech. He is the first president to throw in the towel in at least five decades.
“I am aware today of the risk 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 the address from the Elysee Palace.
Valls, who is seen as a hardliner on law and order issues within his left-wing Socialist party, has said in recent week that he is “ready” to run for president but he has not yet announced a candidacy to represent the Socialists in the election, whose second and final round is scheduled for May 7.
He is nonetheless seen as a favorite to become the presidential candidate, according to Le Figaro.