François Hollande has dropped a loaded hint he may be considering another run at the French presidency given the parlous state of the French Left, none of whose growing list of candidates currently stands a chance of reaching the runoff in April.
The 67-year old Socialist – whose term ran from 2012 to 2017 – was so unpopular at the end of his mandate that he chose not to have a crack at a second term.
However, during a televised chat with a group of high school pupils on Monday, Mr Hollande left the door open for a potential comeback with the ambiguous phrase: “For now, I’m not a candidate.”
He added: “As things are not going well (for the Left), it’s true, one could ask: ‘’Would another candidacy be helpful?’”. Other ex-presidents had gone down that route, he said, adding: “At any rate, I will speak out soon.”
Taken aback, the Socialists’ official candidate, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, dismissed the comments as a bit of playground “humour” from her famously jocular “ally”.
But Mr Hollande’s comments come at a perilous moment for his political family.
Polls show Ms Hidalgo, 62, is humiliatingly set to muster as little as two per cent in the first round of presidential elections. On Sunday, she responded to those who suggested she throw in the towel by saying: “In your dreams!”
Meanwhile, according to a recent Ifop poll, the combined ratings of all Left-wing candidates, who polled a total of 45 per cent of the vote in the 2017 presidential election, is now down to 23 per cent.
Analysts say the Left has long lost the working class, which doesn’t share its view of immigrants as victims of oppression or its stance on multiculturalism.
By comparison, around three quarters of voters back candidates ranging from the centre, in the shape of Emmanuel Macron, 43, to the far-Right, whose most extreme runner is anti-Islam pundit Eric Zemmour, 63.
Photo – Former French President François Hollande. EC Audiovisual Service
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