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France beat Argentina 23-21 in Rugby World Cup

François Hollande to run for French Socialist presidential candidate

media François Hollande meets the people in Argentat in his home region, Corrèze AFP/Jean Pierre Muller

The former leader of the French opposition Socialists, François Hollande, announced Thursday that he will run for his party's nomination in the 2012 presidential race. President Nicolas Sarkozy has not yet said whether he will stand for reelection.

Combating youth employment and reforming taxation will be his priorities, he says.

"There is no time to lose,” Hollande said in his home base of Tulle, south-west France. “It is urgent. There comes a point where there must be ideas and the embodiment of change."

Party members will vote in October to choose the party’s candidate.

Hollande’s former partner Ségolène Royal, whom Sarkozy beat in 2007, has declared she will stand.

Other possible contenders include International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and current party leader Martine Aubry.

Sarkozy looks likely to try and keep his job, despite a slump in his popularity and dissent in his own party, while far-right leader Marine Le Pen has done well in recent opinion polls.

"It is an exceptionally difficult time for our country. The left must be up to the challenge. Otherwise we must fear the worst: extremism, defiance, resignation," Hollande said on Thursday. "It must raise hope and write a new page in our history."

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