Hollande Remains Boss Even as Leadership Doubts Grow, Ally Says

  • Le Foll calls on Socialist Party leadership to stay united
  • Montebourg says he is best alternative candidate for 2017

President Francois Hollande remains in charge even as his popularity remains stuck at record lows and doubts about his ability to seek a second mandate grow, one of his closest allies said.

“The boss until he says otherwise is the president -- he was elected,” Stephane Le Foll, agriculture minister and government spokesman, said on Europe 1 radio. “I won’t hide that there are doubts and questions among Socialist Party members. It’s up to us to remain united.”

Discussion of a replacement candidate for Hollande has gathered momentum since publication this month of a book based on interviews with the Socialist president in which he takes swipes at judges, soccer players, a former girlfriend, and both fellow Socialists and opposition politicians.

With his popularity at a record low and polls consistently showing he will fail to qualify for the May 7 run-off after first-round voting in April, the book has become a last straw for Socialist lawmakers and officials who had until recently been among Hollande’s shrinking circle of supporters. Hollande, 62, has said he will decide whether to run in the 2017 presidential election by mid December.

Separately former Hollande cabinet minister Arnaud Montebourg said Sunday that he is the best placed to replace Hollande. “The alternative to Hollande is me,” Montebourg said in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche. “The left can win. My belief in that is hard as steel.”

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