PARIS, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- For the first time in nearly 60 years, France's incumbent president will not even try for a second term in office.
Elected four years ago, Hollande has been an unpopular figure in France recently -- sentiment reflected by poor approval ratings, which are partly based on a stagnating economy.
"I am speaking to you this evening to inform you of the decision I have taken in view of the forthcoming presidential election," he said during a television broadcast. "I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election."
"I cannot accept, I cannot come to terms with the dispersion of the left, with its splitting up, because that would remove all hope of winning in the face of conservatism and, worse yet, of extremism," Hollande added in a statement issued by Élysée Palace Thursday evening.
Hollande has said for months he was unsure whether he would run again. His decision to drop out is the first for a president in Paris since France's fifth republic was created nearly 60 years ago.
The decision now opens up the French presidential race as right-wing and populist ideologies gain momentum across Europe -- and in the United States, with Trump's recent election.
France will decide in April and May who will replace Hollande.
Thursday's announcement had a similar ring in political cultture to the famously abrupt dropout of former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968.