Hollande won't seek re-election

François Hollande will not stand for re-election next year. The incumbent French president acknowledged that running for office again could pose a risk for his party. Commentators believe Hollande's decision could be a message against populism, and have already made out the favourite contender in the Socialist camp.

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

Valls must take on Hollande's legacy

Current Prime Minister Manuel Valls will probably take the place of François Hollande in the presidential election campaign, Handelsblatt suspects:

“Valls has not yet declared his candidacy but there is no doubt that he has prepared for this. The prime minister is simply allowing a period of grace to pass, and he needs to clarify his strategy. No doubt he will soon resign as prime minister to have time and pave the way for his election campaign. He wants to and must take on Hollande's legacy, also to secure the support of Hollande's team. At the same time he must establish himself as a different kind of politician to the hapless Hollande. And he must also try to bring together all the different groups that want to split up. So even if he wins the primary, the Socialists' fight for survival will continue.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

France will defend liberty

France could once again play the role of pioneer in Europe, Le Figaro believes:

“Paradoxically, the incredible debacle that has been François Hollande's term in office, confirmed by his unprecedented decision not to seek a second mandate, could convince the French to push through the radical changes necessary to get our country back on its feet. At a time when the democracies have hit a nasty air pocket, France is in a position to stop populism in its tracks by saying no to the National Front. The 2017 presidential elections have a historic role to play. ... In the whirlpool of history France could once again buck the trend, renew through progress and defend liberty.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Credibility is restored

Hollande has shown courage with his decision not to run for a second term in office, Tages-Anzeiger writes in praise:

“His choice is as courageous as it is unexpected. No doubt the French president last night regained the credibility he had lost in the preceding years. His message is clear: he wants to be remembered as a 'normal president' because rather than clinging to office he is putting the nation's interests above his own. Hollande spoke about the dangers of right-wing populism and the US elections: 'More than anyone I can see what is at stake in the time to come.' ... This amounts to reshuffling the cards for the presidential elections this April. Two of the central figures of the past decade, Hollande and the conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy, are out of the running.”

Libération (FR) /

Posterity will look kindly on Hollande

The positive results of Hollande's term in office will become clearer as time goes by, Libération is convinced:

“Since his first day in office Hollande has been under fire from a tireless opposition, and his own camp gradually turned its back on him. Despite these adverse times François Hollande continued to govern with the tenacity of one who believes in the policies he stands for. ... While so many countries opted for austerity programmes that exacerbated existing inequalities, France, in the throes of a challenging economic recovery, continued for the most part to protect its public sector employees. It faced the worst terrorist attacks in its history and pushed through necessary social reforms. With time, this continuity at least will be recognised. The true turning point is now visible on the horizon. With François Fillon, the transition to an unjust, already outdated model lies ahead. That is the true danger.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

A president without passion

Hollande's bloodless performance in stormy times has been his biggest mistake, La Vanguardia concludes:

“The French never really wanted a 'normal' president, they want extraordinary people. From Jeanne d'Arc to Napoleon to Charles de Gaulle, France's history is bursting with exceptional figures who came to the fore in moments of crisis. Europe and France still haven't gotten over the crisis of 2008. On the contrary, the rise of the populists and extremists is a direct consequence of it. Hollande, a man who prefers to adapt and seek compromise, wasn't up to the task. True to himself, he has navigated the storm cautiously and conservatively, without showing even a modicum of real passion, either in domestic or foreign policy. … True, Hollande hasn't made any disastrous mistakes - but how could he when he always acted so half-heartedly?”

La Repubblica (IT) /

An admission of failure

Hollande's decision not to run for re-election makes one thing clear more than anything else, writes sociologist Marc Lazar in La Repubblica:

“In his televised speech yesterday, which took everyone by surprise, he resolutely defended his actions since moving into the Élysée palace. But he cannot prevent the majority of the French from seeing his decision as an admission of failure. … Hollande was anything but certain he would win the Socialist primary in January in which he wanted to run. To be defeated in your own party's primary would have been an unbearable humiliation. … The left already looks doomed to lose the presidential election 2017 no matter who runs. But whether it loses or wins - which is highly unlikely - the party will have to reform itself and start clearing away the shambles that Hollande is leaving behind.”