QUEBEC - Gilles Duceppe says that he will not be a candidate to succeed Pauline Marois as head of the Parti Québécois.

The former leader of the Bloc Quebecois closed the door to the possibility Tuesday after being vague about his intentions.

Duceppe told The Canadian Press that it's preferable that leadership candidates be from the PQ caucus .

Polls had put him ahead of such other possible candidates as Pierre Karl Peladeau, Véronique Hivon, Bernard Drainville, Jean -François Lisée and Sylvain Gaudreault.

“I’m not running. I think what I say and I say what I think,” said Duceppe.

“For me I think it’s much better that the leader be someone already in office. Let it be about real debates, not a popularity contest, let’s find out what the people think. They have four years and that’s a lot of time for soul-searching,” he told the CP.

Duceppe will be 67 in July but he said that age was not an issue in his decision.

“It’s not a question of age. I’m the same age as Hilary Clinton,” he noted, making reference to a likely American presidential candidate in 2016.

Duceppe said that finding someone from within the Parti Quebecois is the way to go.

“There’s a certain dynamic within the life of a party, I know because I’ve lived it,” said Duceppe, who headed the Bloc Quebecois for 15 years until leaving in 2011.

Duceppe said that young people under 30 are deserting the sovereignty movement and it’s time to launch a profound debate to find out what's leading to the change.

“It’s not that they’re against sovereignty, but they don’t necessarily see themselves in a party right now because they’re tackling their themes differently. For me it’d be good to have people come and express their ideas on sovereignty in the context of globalization, economics, the environment, the work-family balance. Let them find the time in the PQ, they’ve got four years to do it. “

Duceppe said that Option Nationale supporters be invited to the rethink but not the Quebec Solidaire because he thinks that their ideas are too far to the left. “The links, at least for the moment, are easier with the Option Nationale.”

Duceppe’s Bloc Quebecois was devastated in 2011 by a surge in support from the NDP, which was propelled to some degree by grassroots mobilization from the Quebec Soldaire.

“With the QS, it’s sovereignty to the left, or not at all,” he said. “In my view, that’s anti-democratic.”