President Francois Hollande of France not to run for re-election

Hollande's popularity plunged soon after he took power in 2012, and polls show most voters don't want to see him stay in office.

Amid dismal approval ratings and a high unemployment rate, French President François Hollande on Thursday night announced that he would not compete in next year’s election.

The decision in a televised address was unprecedented and comes as a shock to many political commentators who were counting on him to run for Presidential race despite low ratings. The decision added further turmoil to the country’s unsettled politics. It also injected new uncertainty into the political dynamic of Europe as far-right and populist forces are gaining strength across the Continent, as well as in the United States.

“I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election,” Hollande said in the prime time slot, adding that he hoped by stepping aside to give the Socialists a chance to win “against conservatism and, worse still, extremism.”

The 62-year-old president – the country’s least popular leader since World War II – said he was “conscious of the risks” his lack of support posed to a successful candidacy. “What’s at stake is not a person, it’s the country’s future,” he said.

Hollande’s popularity plunged soon after he took power in 2012, and polls show most voters don’t want to see him stay in office. Reportedly, his ratings have fallen so low, historic depths in some surveys, going as low as 4 percent, that many of his own Socialist colleagues had warned publicly that he was headed for certain defeat if he chose to run.

Voters expressed disappointment over the lagging economy, higher taxes and the pro-business shift Hollande adopted midterm after first claiming as a candidate his “real adversary” would be the “world of finance”.