French President Jacques Chirac left open the possibility on Thursday that he might seek a third term and made clear that, if he doesn't, he does not intend to take a back seat during what will be his last few months in power.
A run by Chirac could significantly shift the direction, tone and outcome of what is expected to be a close race. Most observers think that the 74-year-old will bow out, but Chirac is maintaining the doubt.
Chirac's traditional New Year's address to reporters on Thursday offered a clear opportunity to telegraph his intentions. But instead, he kept everyone guessing, reports AP.
"You are asking yourselves about my calendar, my choices to come," he said. "When the time comes, I will make my decision known to the French, according to just one demand: the national interest."