French Socialists in Turmoil as Francois Hollande Considers Bid for Presidency

Francois Hollande
French President François Hollande delivers a speech during a graduation ceremony at the National Police Academy in Nimes, France, November 25. He is yet to declare whether he will run for a second term as French president. Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

Deep internal tensions within the French Socialist party have burst into the open as President François Hollande delays confirming whether he will run for a second term.

Hollande now has just two weeks to declare his candidacy for the left-wing primary race in late January, before the election itself in April and May.

Polls have shown Hollande to be most unpopular president in French history.

A mid-term change of tack towards a pro-business economic policy deepened divisions in his party between more traditional socialists and moderate social democrats.

"People on the left are in despair at the situation," Alexis Bachelay, a left-wing Socialist MP, told Le Parisien on Wednesday.

Meanwhile personal rivalry between Hollande and two of his current or former subordinates has defined the left-wing pre-election battle.

Emmanuel Macron, Hollande's former economy minister, is running for the presidency on an independent ticket, while Prime Minister Manuel Valls is reported to be considering a bid.

Most polls show that Valls would beat Hollande in the primaries if he runs, while Hollande's low ratings suggest he has little chance of reaching the presidency.