French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Monday declared his bid to become the Socialist candidate for next year's presidential election and said he was quitting the government to focus on campaigning.
The path was cleared for Valls to enter the race last week when incumbent President Francois Hollande announced he would be the first leader since France's Fifth Republic was created not to seek a second mandate.
"In my drive to push my political family to evolve I have sometimes had harsh words, triggered debates, misunderstandings. That's the left. There are debates, controversies. But I have always backed collective decisions," Valls said. "My candidacy is one of conciliation, of reconciliation."
France's left is deeply divided as it approaches the election and Valls will have to disentangle himself from Hollande's five years at the helm of the euro zone's number two economy if he is to persuade voters he is the best candidate to heal the party's rifts.