Leftist contender for the Socialist primary election Arnaud Montebourg surrounded by reporters leaves the river boat after he officially launched his primary campaign for France's presidential election in spring next year in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Leftist contender for the Socialist primary election Arnaud Montebourg gestures as he delivers a speech to officially launch his primary campaign for France's presidential election in spring next year, on a river boat in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Placard reads, "Free the French". (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
December 01, 2016 2:46 PM
Hollande hopes withdrawal helps Socialist's odds
PARIS – The Latest on France's presidential campaigns (all times local):
French President Francois Hollande says he decided against running for another term because he wants to give his Socialist party a chance to win "against conservatism and extremism."
Hollande said on French television Thursday that he was "lucid" about his chances of getting wide backing within the party, which remains deeply divided over his policies.
The historically unpopular president said the unexpected announcement: "Today, I am conscious of the risks that such a move would have if it doesn't get widespread support."
The 62-year-old Hollande also used his somber address to recap what he viewed as his achievements since taking office in 2012.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls is widely expected to jump into the Socialist primary field.
France's Socialist President Francois Hollande says he will not seek re-election next year.
Hollande's announcement Thursday on French television network TF1 came just a few days after his No. 2, Manuel Valls, said he is "ready" to compete in the left-wing Socialist primary in January.
Hollande said: "I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election" and that he remained "lucid" about his chances of getting wide backing within the party.
The deeply unpopular Hollande was expected to say in the coming weeks whether he would run again.
The French president — the most unpopular of France's modern history — repeatedly said he would seek re-election only if he was able to curb the unemployment rate, which has hovered for years at 10 percent.
Former French economy minister Arnaud Montebourg has formally entered the country's presidential race.
Montebourg announced his candidacy Thursday in the presidential primary France's Socialist party has scheduled for January.
The 54-year-old Montebourg's politics are firmly left-leaning. He lost his cabinet position in 2014 because he denounced president Francois Hollande's pro-business shift.
During a speech in Paris, Montebourg says he favors a strong state to protect France's industry from "foreign interests."
Another former economy minister of Hollande's, centrist Emmanuel Macron also is seeing the presidency but without taking part into a primary. Macron advocates free market policies.
Hollande must say whether he will stand for re-election before a Dec. 15 deadline.
The French conservatives have chosen former prime minister Francois Fillon as their nominee for the April-May presidential election..