French presidential election dates finalised
The first round of France's presidential election has been set for April 23 next year and the second round for May 7, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said Wednesday, with legislative elections to follow in June 2017.
Embattled Socialist President Francois Hollande has an approval rating of 13 percent, and all voter surveys predict a first-round loss for the most unpopular president in modern French history.
The left is seriously weakened as it heads towards the vote, split between a government perceived as moving to the centre and a vocal dissident group.
A primary is thus unlikely on the left, leaving other potential candidates to wait in the wings to see whether Hollande's fortunes change.
The 61-year-old incumbent has staked his presidency on a pledge to tackle unemployment, which remains stuck at around 10 percent.
The right-wing opposition for its part will hold primary elections for the first time, set for November 20 and 27.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, 61, who lost to Hollande in 2012, has not officially declared his intention to stand but few doubt his desire for a return to the Elysee Palace under the banner of his new Republicans party.
Chief among his rivals is his former foreign minister, Alain Juppe, the 70-year-old mayor of Bordeaux who was prime minister under president Jacques Chirac from 1995 to 1997.
The far right's uncontested candidate, 47-year-old Marine Le Pen of the anti-immigration National Front, is already in full campaign mode.
Surveys put her in front with 28 percent of voter intentions, but she is tipped to lose in the second round.
The legislative elections are set for June 11 and 18.
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