French ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac bows out

President Francois Hollande (L) and ex-minister Jerome Cahuzac (R)
Image caption President Hollande (L) has been tarnished by the scandal surrounding Mr Cahuzac (R)

France's disgraced ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac, who stood down when he was found to have an undeclared Swiss bank account, says he will not stand in a by-election for his old seat.

He told the Depeche du Midi newspaper he feared a violent hate campaign.

Mr Cahuzac - who gained a reputation as a vocal crusader against the use of overseas tax havens - quit in March.

The scandal damaged President Francois Hollande's already beleaguered government.

Mr Cahuzac has been charged with tax fraud.

Paying his debts

He initially denied a report by an investigative website that he had an undeclared Swiss bank account until 2010.

But after a meeting with investigating magistrates in April, he admitted to having the account, which contained about 600,000 euros (£509,000; $770,000).

He told the Depeche newspaper he had transferred the funds to France: he would pay his debts to the state and turn any remaining funds over to charity.

A by-election for Mr Cahuzac's old seat, in the south-western administrative department of Lot-et-Garonne, will take place on 16 and 23 June.

Correspondents say the scandal is embarrassing for the French Socialist government which has made fighting tax evasion a priority, as it tries to cut public debt.

Recent opinion polls show Mr Hollande's approval rating among the public has fallen to about 25%.

This is the biggest slump for any French president in the past 50 years.

On 5 May, tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Paris to show their dissatisfaction with Mr Hollande.

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