France's Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron has stepped down from his post, confirmed the French presidency. The move has fueled speculation that Macron will launch a run for the presidency next year.
The 38-year-old Emmanuel Macron resigned from his position as Economy Minister, reported the French Presidency on Tuesday.
Macron left the post in order "to dedicate himself entirely to his political movement", the presidency said, referring to the "En Marche" (On the Move) party, which he founded in April.
On Twitter, Macron said he is due to speak about his resignation at 5:45 p.m. local time (1545 UTC). However, a spokeswoman for "En March" said he will not announce his candidacy on Tuesday.
He tendered his resignation to the president this afternoon, sailing in a boat down the Seine River for a meeting with Hollande at the Elysee Palace. Reports had been circulating in French media on Tuesday about his possible departure.
French President Francois Hollande has said Finance Minister Michel Sapin will also take over responsibility for the Economy Ministry.
Possible presidential run
The news is seen as one big step closer to launching Macron's own presidential bid for the 2017 elections.
The former investment banker launched a political movement called "En Marche". A movement which he describes as the door-to-door grievance-gathering campaign which is neither left nor right.
Last month, he strongly hinted at his presidential aspirations, saying he would lead the movement "to 2017 and to victory."
Hollande reprimanded Macron for the comments, threatening to fire him unless he showed "solidarity" with the Socialist government he joined in 2014.
Macron has been praised by liberals for attacking key pillars of French Socialism such as the 35-hour work week.
Should Macron run for president, it could shake up next year's French presidential electionwhere the nation's traditional parties - the Socialists and the conservative Les Republicans - are competing against the far-right National Front leader, Marine Le Pen.
Hollande's approval ratings are the lowest of any post-war French president, falling to 14 percent in June. He has vowed not to seek re-election should he fail to rein-in the high unemployment rate, which is around 10 percent.
The first round of voting in France's presidential poll is set to take place on April 23, 2017.
rs/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)