The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has declared his bid to become the Socialist candidate for next year’s presidential election.
His move follows last week’s decision by the unpopular President Hollande not to seek a second term in office.
The 54-year-old said he was outraged at the left’s poor prospects at the election as suggested by poll ratings and infighting.
“The time, yes, time, has come to go further in my commitment. Statesmanship leads me to decide that I can no longer be Prime Minister while at the same time being candidate. In total agreement with the President of the Republic, I will resign from my role from tomorrow because I want to offer the French people a path in complete freedom,” Valls said to applause from supporters in the Paris suburb of Evry, where he was mayor for over a decade.
The prime minister’s tough rhetoric on law and order and business-friendly economic stance make him unpopular with the left of his party.
Although he is seen as favourite to win the Socialist nomination at the party’s primaries next January, Valls may face an uphill struggle to reach the run-off of the presidential election itself next spring.
Opinion polls suggest the final showdown is likely to be fought between conservative candidate François Fillon and the anti-establishment National Front leader Marine Le Pen – although such surveys have proved to be wrong more than once in recent elections.