President: Francois Hollande
Francois Hollande beat the conservative incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, in May 2012 to become France's first Socialist president since Francois Mitterrand in 1981-1995.
A veteran party official who has never held national government office before, Mr Hollande emerged as the Socialist candidate after the favourite, IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, saw his political career collapse in 2011 amid international allegations of sexual misconduct.
Born in 1954 in Rouen, Normandy, and a product of the "grandes ecoles" elite education system, Mr Hollande was an economic advisor to President Mitterrand, and became an MP in 1988. He rose to lead the party in the long years of opposition in 1997-2008, and stood down over a party row about the failed presidential campaign of his long-standing partner, Segolene Royal.
Mr Hollande and Ms Royal later split up over his affair with journalist Valerie Trierweiler, who is now Mr Hollande's partner.
After the Strauss-Kahn scandal broke, Mr Hollande became the standard-bearer of the right wing of the party, seeing off a challenge at public primaries from the more left-wing party leader, Martine Aubry, to become the presidential candidate.
Despite his reputation as a moderate, Mr Hollande campaigned on a number of radical proposals, including a 75% top income tax rate, the appointment of 60,000 new teachers, and the renegotiation of the European Union fiscal growth pact agreed by President Sarkozy and the German government.
His main challenges in office will be to satisfy the expectations raised by these policies without fuelling inflation at home and confrontation with Germany within the EU. The Socialists won a comfortable majority in the June 2012 parliamentary elections, ensuring that President Hollande would not have to count on far-left or Green votes in the event of having to moderate his manifesto pledges.
By the end of 2012 Mr Hollande's economic plans were in trouble, with growth stagnant and the continuing woes of the eurozone promising no relief. France went back into recession in the first quarter of 2013.
Mr Hollande's predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, cast himself as a moderniser. He promised pro-market reforms and cuts in taxes and public spending. There were regular public sector strikes in protest at planned cuts to pay and pensions.
On foreign policy, Mr Sarkozy was more pro-American than previous presidents, and played a prominent role in the international intervention against the Gaddafi government in Libya in 2011. Mr Hollande, in contrast, announced the withdrawal of French combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, a year earlier than scheduled.
He did continue France's forward policy in Africa but sending troops to Mali in 2013 to quell an Islamist rising in the north.
Part of Mr Hollande's electoral appeal lay in his sober and modest manner when compared with the flamboyant Mr Sarkozy. But a very public campaign by the president's partner, Valerie Trierweiler, against an attempted political comback by Segolene Royal, the mother of the president's four children, has subjected Mr Hollande to public ridicule.
Prime minister: Jean-Marc Ayrault
Jean-Marc Ayrault, a long-standing ally of President Hollande, is a veteran leader of the Socialists' parliamentary bloc and mayor of Nantes. The premiership is his first senior government post.
He has a reputation as a calm consensus-builder. Mr Ayrault is a German-speaker, seen as an asset for the president in handling France's relationship with Germany.