Until that point, the Socialists looked unlikely to make any impact on the race for presidency, owing to the massive unpopularity of Hollande — the worst personal poll ratings in the history of the Fifth Republic — as deep resentment over his failure to turn round the economy.


Manuel Valls


His prime minister, Manuel Valls, had hinted that he might stand for the presidential candidacy in the Socialists primaries, January 2017, which would have meant Hollande outing himself forward in a contest against his own PM — a political taboo.


In the end, Hollande stood aside and Valls is set, Monday (December 5) to officially stand, with the latest Ifop poll for newspaper Journal du Dimanche showing 45 percent backing his stance, against 25 percent for the left-winger and former Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg.


Valls climbed steadily up the Socialists ladder, after becoming a member at the age of 17, working his way up through the ranks to become head of the Socialist Party in Argenteuil-Bezons, in the Île-de-France region, which includes Paris. After spells as Secretary of Communications for the national Socialist Party and other responsibilities for communications and media relations for the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, in 1998, he was elected vice president of the regional Council for the Île-de-France.


He stood against Hollande in the 2012 primaries for the presidency, lost and then endorsed Hollande, who eventually rewarded him by appointing him prime minister. Few doubted Valls was always a potential candidate for the presidency.