- Title: Leftist convention gives Francois Hollande standing ovation
- Date: 3rd December 2016
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 3, 2016) (REUTERS) SUPPORTER OF THE "BELLE ALLIANCE POPULAIRE" OR BEAUTIFUL POPULAR ALLIANCE, TAKING PICTURE ON PHONE VARIOUS OF SUPPORTERS LISTENING TO SPEECHES BY LEFTIST PARTY REPRESENTATIVES CONVENTION TAKING PLACE
- Embargoed: 18th December 2016 16:19
- Keywords: Francois Hollande France presidential elections left Manuel Valls Francois Fillon Bruno Le Roux Belle Alliance Populaire
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Reuters ID: LVA0015BBXOAV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:France's leftist groups showed their support for French President Francois Hollande on Saturday (December 3) at a rally in Paris.
Participants gave a standing ovation at the first convention of the Belle Alliance Populaire, or Beautiful Popular Alliance, a gathering of leftist politicians, strategists and labour unions.
Hollande shocked France on Thursday by announcing he would not seek a second term next year, acknowledging his deep unpopularity and making way for another leftist candidate to take on conservative Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
The surprise announcement was effectively an admission that by running again he would hurt his Socialist party's chance. It also marked the first time since France's fifth Republic was created in 1958 that an incumbent president has not sought a second mandate.
"Here with you, I want to salute the president, who, by his decision, which demands we gather, unite, to never stop searching for the conditions that bring the left together, the unity without which anything is possible," Bruno Le Roux, National Secretary of the Socialist Party in charge of elections, told a rally of nearly 3,000 people at the Paris Event Centre.
"Here with you, I want to salute the president for all the reasons he detailed in his speech, for the courage that has been his since 2012, when he reached this highest of functions and who said to us today 'I do not want to be an obstacle to unity but come together'."
Dogged by high unemployment, Hollande is the least popular president in French polling history, yet his closest aides had consistently said he would run.
Sophie Ganne, who works in the private sector, said she supported Hollande's decision not to run again and that it was very dignified of him.
"His choice is respectable and is his to make," she said.
Hollande's retreat makes it likely that his prime minister, Manuel Valls, will throw his hat in the ring to take part in the Socialist primaries in January.
But 29-year-old Hugo Baillet who works in a communications agency, said Valls' victory of the Socialist party primaries was not a done deal.
"I'm waiting to see what kind of programme he (French Prime Minister Manuel Valls) proposes, who will support him and what the alternatives to Manuel Valls will be because, once again, today he is in the lead in the polls but Francois Fillon was not and now he's the one winning so we'll see what horse we bet on," he said.
Several opinion polls over the past week show Valls faring marginally better than Hollande would have done, but still being eliminated in the first round of the presidential election.
The crowd of supporters attending the rally, stood to clap and cheer Hollande for several minutes after Le Roux's salute.
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