French President Francois Hollande says he will not seek the nomination from his Socialist Party to run for the presidency in April 2017.
With opinion polls showing that Hollande is deeply unpopular, he said on December 1 that he wants to give his Socialist Party a chance to win "against conservatism and extremism."
Prime Minister Manuel Valls is widely expected to be the front-runner in the Socialist Party primary in January.
France's conservative Les Republicains party has chosen former Prime Minister Francois Fillon as its presidential candidate.
Political analysts already are predicting that the first-round vote in April will lead to a runoff in May between Fillon and France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen.