France: President François Hollande Selflessly Decides Not to Face Humiliation.
French President François Hollande said on Thursday he would not seek re-election next year, bowing to historically low approval ratings after a troubled term in power.
“I have decided that I will not be a candidate,” a stony-faced Hollande said in a solemn televised statement from the Élysée Palace in Paris during which he defended his record.
He conceded that he was unable to unite his deeply divided Socialist Party behind his candidacy ahead of the presidential election in April and May next year.“In the months to come, my only duty will be to continue to lead my country,” he said.
Hollande’s approval ratings have hit rock bottom after a term in office marked by U-turns on major policies, terror attacks, high unemployment and embarrassing revelations about his private life.
He is the most unpopular president in French polling history, a fact he tacitly acknowledged in his speech on Thursday.
“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,” he said.
A new poll on Wednesday predicted he would win just seven percent of votes in the first round of next year’s election in April – strengthening Socialist critics who view him as a lame duck.
This decision leaves the forthcoming ‘Primary’ of the Parti Socialiste (PS) wide open.
This will take place on the 22nd and 29th of January 2017 (Primaire citoyenne de 2017).
There is speculation as to whether Manuel Valls, the present Prime Minister, described as a “social liberal” (in French terms, pro-market), marked by a dose of ‘Blue Labour’ conservative moral and authoritarianism, will stand. Others consider the Martine Aubry, the Mayor of Lille and a bearer of the European social democratic current, who has been critical of Hollande, may present herself.
This morning on France-Inter on of the candidates from the left of the Socialist Party, Arnaud Montebourg gave his reactions.
Saluting Hollande’s decision he gave some no doubt well-meant advice to Valls: he cannot remain as Prime Minister while entering into the Party’s contest for a Presidential candidate.
Cela me paraît difficile que Manuel Valls puisse rester à Matignon (…) Je ne pense pas que cela laisse de la place à une campagne des primaires.
Faced with a parting shot by Hollande, warning of the dangers of “protectionism”, Montebourg offered an intresting – that is to say, contorted- defence of his project for ‘social protection’, which may, possibly, include economic…protectionism.
As in this:
As Montenbourg was tailing, even overtaking Hollande, in the polls, it’s worth nothing that his programme principles also include suppoort for medium to small enterprises, anti-austerity, en end to “social dumping” , migrant workers under terms of conditions set in their countries rather than by France, activity by a ‘strong state’ such as nationalisations (Banking sector), and … obligatory young people’s military or civic service for 6 months. (Quelles sont les propositions d’Arnaud Montebourg ?)
The other candidates, for the moment include (le Monde).
- Marie-Noëlle Lienemann – Socialist senator left ‘frondeur’ (those who have criticised Hollande’s legislative projects and Presidency. Standing for ‘social justice, raising the minimum wage and a better deal for young people. Wishes to carry the message to the left as a whole, including the greens, and the left of the left.
- Benoît Hamon – Former education Minister, critic of Hollande, stands for retaining the 35 hours week, and introducing a universal basic income. Nowhere in the polls.
- Gérard Filoche – former member of the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire . Important figure in the campaign against the recent labour ‘reforms’. Good bloke. Outsider. (1)
- Manuel Valls still not officially declared candidate. Hard man of the Parti Socialiste right. Likes Tony Blair – enough said.
Others: Les candidats des partis associés.
- Jean-Luc Bennahmias (Front démocrate) Who?
- François de Rugy (Écologistes !) Who?
- Pierre Larrouturou (Nouvelle Donne). Who? Very odd group Nouvelle Donne….
The wider issue of who will be the left’s candidate in next year’s Presidential election is considered here: Après le retrait de Hollande, qui est candidat à gauche ? Laure Equy et Sylvain Mouillard.
Hopefuls include: Emmanuel Macron (centre), Sylvia Pinel (of the small Parti radical de gauche), Nathalie Arthaud (Lutte Ouvrière) Philippe Poutou (Nouveau parti anticaptialiste), Yannick Jadot (Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EE-LV).
There is also Jean-Luc Mélenchon under the banner of his rally, La France Insoumise whose politics we have presented often enough here to make further comment unnecessary for the moment.
Mélenchon stands at around 15 % in the polls which makes him a front-runner for winning the same score as the French Communist Georges Marchais in 1981.
(1) Filoche has just launched an appeal for the left to develop a common left socialist strategy amongst the Socialists, the 4 left candidates in the primary and for meetings with Jadot and Mélenchon (une stratégie commune de la gauche socialiste, un « pack des quatre » dès maintenant, ensuite nous rencontrerons Yannick Jadot et Jean luc Mélenchon).
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