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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
French PM 'not going for top job'
Dominique de Villepin
Mr de Villepin has up to now dodged questions about the presidency
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has said he has no plans to run for the presidency next year.

"I have no presidential ambitions," he told a regular monthly news conference.

Mr de Villepin is seen as President Jacques Chirac's preferred successor, but his ratings have plummeted during a series of crises and scandals.

The prime minister has previously avoided giving a direct answer to questions about his plans for next April's election.

The current favourites are Mr de Villepin's rival within the UMP party, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, and the Socialist Segolene Royale.

Mr Chirac gave a television interview this week in order to voice support for his prime minister, who faced calls for his resignation after calling the leader of the Socialist Party a coward.

A recent poll suggested that just 4% of voters planned to vote for Mr de Villepin, if he chose to run in the election.

Appointed just over a year ago, he suffered a major blow to his prestige when nationwide protests in February and March forced him to back down on planned labour reforms.

More recently, he has been accused of involvement in a smear campaign against Mr Sarkozy.

Profile: Dominique de Villepin
11 Apr 06 |  Europe

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