French candidate ends bid for presidency

2012-02-01 16:49
Paris - Former French defence minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement withdrew from the race for president on Wednesday, saying he did not have the means to continue his campaign.

Chevenement, a 72-year-old senator who broke away from the Socialist Party in the 1990s to form his own Citizen and Republican Movement, announced his withdrawal in a statement sent to AFP news agency.

In November, Chevenement had announced he would run on a ticket to reindustrialise France and push for the European Union to be reconfigured as a looser confederation.

He first ran for president in 2002, when he won 5.3% of the vote.

His announcement came as two polls showed Socialist presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande widening his lead over incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy.

A poll conducted by TNS Sofres published on Wednesday showed Hollande likely to win 31.5% of votes in the first round of the election on April 22, compared with 26% for Sarkozy and 16% for far-right National Front leader Marine le Pen.

On Tuesday, an IFOP poll credited Hollande with 31% support, Sarkozy with 24.5% and le Pen with 19%.

Both polls were conducted after Sarkozy gave an hour-long television interview on Sunday, in which he announced several reforms, including an increase in value-added tax.

Sarkozy has yet to officially confirm he will run for re-election but has intimated he will seek a second term. His announcement is expected between mid-February and early March.

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