French President Francois Hollande announced on television Thursday that he would not seek a 2nd term. From the Associated Press:
“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.
He says his first order of business as President would be to cut 500,000 civil servants, end the 35-hour workweek and cut €50 billion ($53 billion) in corporate taxes and €100 billion in public spending. He also plans to cancel the so-called “wealth tax” — an annual payment, found almost nowhere else in the world, that France levies on high-income residents’ assets, including property and investments.
All that is essential, say economists, in order to bring down France’s huge debt. The country’s public deficit is about 4.7% of its GDP, far above the 3% level it is supposed to stick to, under the E.U.’s rules.
France’s final runoff election won’t take place until next May but according to one recent poll, Fillon is positioned to soundly defeat his challengers including LePen.