Francois Hollande to set France on new course after win

 

Hollande came to Paris late on Sunday evening to make a victory speech

French President-elect Francois Hollande is to start work on forming a new government, after telling supporters his victory gave hope of an end to austerity.

Mr Hollande has vowed to rework a deal on government debt in eurozone member-countries to focus on promoting growth.

The Socialist leader won just under 52% of votes in Sunday's run-off election.

Centre-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy is the first French president since 1981 not to win a second term.

He will hand power to Mr Hollande on 15 May, following talks between the two camps, the presidency has said.

Mr Hollande must act quickly to reassure other eurozone countries he is up to the considerable challenge he faces, the BBC's Christian Fraser reports from Paris.

Invitation to Berlin

Mr Hollande has called for a renegotiation of a hard-won European treaty on budget discipline championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr Sarkozy.

At the scene

After the euphoria of election night, it was back down to earth on Monday morning as Mr Hollande moved quickly on, to the business of preparing to govern. Over the next few days, he will be drawing up the list of names for his first government, which will take over after the handover of presidential power next week.

Favourite for the post of prime minister is Jean-Marc Ayrault, a veteran socialist parliamentarian and mayor of the city of Nantes, who is also a German speaker and could help build up relations with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. The new government's primary task will be to prepare for more elections, this time for the parliament or national assembly, which will take place at the start of June.

These are crucial because Mr Hollande needs a parliamentary majority in order to see through his programme. At the moment, the assembly is dominated by supporters of Mr Sarkozy. Parliamentary elections like these that immediately follow presidential elections tend to deliver the head of state the majority he requires, but it is not a foregone conclusion; the next few weeks in France will see yet more passionate political campaigning.

Mrs Merkel congratulated the president-elect by phone and invited him to Berlin to hold talks soon, but she warned the fiscal compact was "not up for grabs".

"The core of the discussion is really all about... whether we are going to have again programmes for growth which are on the back of debt or indeed whether we are going to have programmes for growth that are sustainable and indeed rely on the competitiveness of the countries," she told a news conference in Berlin.

In Washington, a White House spokesman said the alliance between France and the US was "as strong today as it was last week".

Spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama had called Mr Hollande to congratulate him on the victory, adding that the US leader was looking forward to welcoming the president-elect to a Nato and G8 summit in the US later this month.

Mr Carney also said that President Obama had telephoned Mr Sarkozy to thank him for his "strong leadership and for his friendship and partnership in challenging times".

UK Prime Minister David Cameron also called Mr Hollande to congratulate him.

Mr Hollande feeds a renewed sense of hope in the country - particularly among the young - that amid the austerity, there can be jobs and salaries, our correspondent says. However, the debt problems for France are still the same.

Jubilant Hollande supporters gathered at the Place de la Bastille in Paris - a traditional rallying point of the Left - to celebrate.

Mr Hollande - the first Socialist to win the French presidency since Francois Mitterrand in the 1980s - earlier gave his victory speech in his stronghold of Tulle in central France.

He said he would push ahead with his pledge to refocus EU fiscal efforts from austerity to "growth".

Nicolas Sarkozy says Francois Hollande must be respected as the new president

"Europe is watching us, austerity can no longer be the only option," he said.

After his speech in Tulle, Mr Hollande headed to Brive airport to fly to Paris to address supporters at the Place de la Bastille.

"I am the president of the youth of France," he told the assembled crowd of tens of thousands of supporters.

"You are a movement that is rising up throughout Europe," he said.

'Clique' warning

Mr Hollande capitalised on France's economic woes and President Sarkozy's unpopularity.

The Socialist candidate has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1m euros a year.

He wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers.

In his concession speech, Mr Sarkozy told supporters: "Francois Hollande is the president of France and he must be respected."

The outgoing centre-right president said he was "taking responsibility for defeat".

Hollande supporters in Lyon (6 May 2012)

FINAL RESULTS

Source: Interior ministry

Share

Vote

F. Hollande

51.62%

18,000,438

N. Sarkozy

48.38%

16,869,371

Turnout

80,34%

"My place will no longer be the same. My involvement in the life of my country will now be different."

Mr Sarkozy also held a meeting with senior members of his UMP party, warning against infighting after the electoral defeat.

"For the future, avoid banding into cliques," he was quoted as saying by a participant of the meeting.

Mr Sarkozy also reportedly said he would give more details in September about what he intended to do in the future.

During the campaign, the outgoing president had said he would leave politics if he lost the election.

Mr Sarkozy, who has been in office since 2007, had promised to reduce France's large budget deficit through spending cuts.

He becomes the latest European leader to be voted out of office amid widespread voter anger at austerity measures triggered by the eurozone debt crisis.

France is due to hold a parliamentary election in June.

 

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Hollande in power

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  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 379.

    Left, right, centre, politicians have little choice but to dance to the tune of the markets - the real source of power.

    Like it or loathe it, barking at politicians for the economic failure is like getting angry at King Canute for failing to hold back the tide. Bark away, but they're a soft (and useless) target. Meanwhile, the real villains are laughing into their champagne.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 378.

    Bon Chance Mon Ami, I wish them all the best but I don't see spending their way out of recession working somehow. Mr Hollande has been a bit thin on detail.
    If the French do succeed Monsieur Cameron will be on his way to La Guillotine at the next election.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 377.

    Over the past five years, we have borrowed and this has resulted in no growth at all. WE need to go back to a real economy, based on real productivity as the false growth we have had, based on debt, is exactly that, false. The alternative of just taxing, results in no growth either - real productivity is the only way out of this mess and that is difficult - but that has to be the focus.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 376.

    Anybody is better than the smug, smirking Sarkozy, coudn't stand the man and his arrogance. France are in a similar predicament to us except their only export of any note is badly made cars as opposed ours which is weapons.

    Let's see how he boosts their economy, if he spends and fails then take note Labour

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 375.

    Looks like the French can't understand the need for austerity. Who can ever vote for a socialist?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 374.

    Sarkozy was arrogant and self opinionated but Hollande has to deal with the reality. He can promise what he likes but it has to be paid for (or borrowed) and I can't see Germany standing by whilst its neighbour ends up another basket case of Europe.

    Tough decisions are tough decisions and anything else is just delusional - but hey, they're politicians so we trust them - right?

    Good luck...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 373.

    The rich will tolerate a bit more of a taxation; no sweat. But will the French working people pull up their weight to ensure the country can compete with East Asia? If they do, whether France stays in the eurozone or not is of little difference. However, remaking of the North African migrants into Frenchmen will be the task to deal with without hiding behind the curtain of political correctness.

  • Comment number 372.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 371.

    It's now official. France isn't in Europe. It's in La-La Land.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 370.

    @3612, the reason, its not working in greece and spain is because the governments over the last 15 years have borrowed more than they could afford, this gave the people an expectation, however, it was a pipe dream. As when any dream is torn to shreds the people blame those in charge, rather than themselves, as they were the ones that kept voting in people that promised them the moon and stars.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 369.

    Is only the austerity that got him out? Or the people of France are no longer interest in him?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 368.

    Hollande beats Sarkozy 51.6% to 48.4%. BBC calls it a "clear victory". Boris beats Ken 51.57% to 48.43%. BBC calls it a "narrow win". I think we know where the BBC's political leanings are now if we didn't before.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 367.

    Aside from the subjective, "doing this will fail, doing that will work" - there is nothing we can rely on with confidence. Having a diversity of opinion is fundamental to improvement. Personally, I don't see how growth can continue as it is based on diminishing resources and thus squeezing more from less. Private companies cannot run the public sector. Incentives work, obscene profits do not

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 366.

    Victory could shift relationships with US & Canada, with Hollande promising to push EU's focus away from trans-Atlantic military & trade relationships towards more insular emphasis on EU. Withdrawal from Afghanistan is likely to be more rapid, & Canada-EU free-trade agreement will move to the back burner.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 365.

    ref #248
    Many business leaders support Hollande, just as they did Obama. Why? Because in times of crisis and austerity, people need to feel they are represented and the burden is fairly shared.
    ___________

    but the people in France who voted for Hollande just like the Occupy movement don't want people paying their fair share. They want someone else to pay for them so they don't have to work

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 364.

    Monsieur Hollande points the way If Cameron wants to mend broken Britain he must follow M.Hollande.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 363.

    305

    The manufacturing sector in France is about the same size as the manufacturing sector in the UK. It is wrong to say that the UK makes nothing.

    I wholly agree that the UK needs to manufacture more but for as long as the banking sector gets all the help from government and all the attention of the media this will not happen.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 362.

    Not sure the Hollande victory will change much. Sounds like his mouth is writing cheques that La Fronce can't afford to pay - but that's what politicians do.

    Far more concerned about what happened in Greece. Extremism always has been, and always will be, the enemy of humanity, and this could be really dangerous.

    Anyone know what Golden Dawn's policies on Cyprus and Turkish Relations are? Hmm

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 361.

    Extreme austerity isn't working. Look at Greece and Spain. People are rising up throughout Europe. Many are turning towards the far left or right, as they feel betrayed by centrist parties that support austerity. Resentment against Germany is also on the rise. It will be interesting to see the political map of Europe a few years from now.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 360.

    More spending and less austerity? Isnt that what got ourselves and the EU in this trouble in the first place? You cant blame the majority for wanting less cuts but its never going to work. The EU in its current form in unworkable, just a fantasy in the minds of the elite, and as long as they have taxpayers cash rolling in, theyll never give up trying.

 

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