Europe

French premier steps down to focus on presidential election

  • French Prime Minister Manuel Valls blows a kiss to the audience after announcing his candidacy for the Socialist primary next month, in Evry, outside Paris, Monday Dec. 5, 2016. Valls hopes to unite the Socialists under his banner and give the left a chance to stay at the Elysee, in the most ambitious challenge of his political life after president Francois Hollande decided not to run for re-election next year. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

    French Prime Minister Manuel Valls blows a kiss to the audience after announcing his candidacy for the Socialist primary next month, in Evry, outside Paris, Monday Dec. 5, 2016. Valls hopes to unite the Socialists under his banner and give the left a chance to stay at the Elysee, in the most ambitious challenge of his political life after president Francois Hollande decided not to run for re-election next year. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015 file picture, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve leaves the Elysee Palace after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has stepped down to focus on running for president in next year's election and has been replaced by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015 file picture, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve leaves the Elysee Palace after the weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has stepped down to focus on running for president in next year's election and has been replaced by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, June 15, 2016 file picture, French President Francois Hollande, left, and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve arrive for an homage ceremony for the two police officials killed by an Islamic State extremist, at the French Interior Ministry in Paris, France. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has stepped down to focus on running for president in next year's election and has been replaced by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, June 15, 2016 file picture, French President Francois Hollande, left, and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve arrive for an homage ceremony for the two police officials killed by an Islamic State extremist, at the French Interior Ministry in Paris, France. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has stepped down to focus on running for president in next year's election and has been replaced by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, File)  (The Associated Press)

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has stepped down to focus on running for president in next year's election and has been replaced by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

Valls resigned Tuesday, a day after announcing his candidacy after President Francois Hollande decided not to run for a second term last week.

Valls hopes to unite Socialists and give the left a chance to stay at the Elysee Palace despite current opinion polls suggesting the second round of the election could pit Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, against conservative Francois Fillon.

The 53-year-old Cazeneuve is a close ally of Hollande and became a popular figure in French politics over the past two years as the champion of the fight against Islamic extremism in his interior minister role.