Francois Hollande becomes France's new president

 

Key moments as Francois Hollande is inaugurated as French president

Francois Hollande has been sworn in as president of France, becoming the first Socialist leader in 17 years to occupy the Elysee Palace.

He said he was aware of the challenges ahead, including the debt crisis, and vowed to "open a new path in Europe".

He named close aide Jean-Marc Ayrault as his PM. Mr Hollande is now to visit Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Mr Hollande called for "a compromise" over the German-led focus on austerity as the way out of the eurozone crisis.

Stock markets and the euro have fallen amid continuing political uncertainty in Greece.

Analysis

The handover of presidential power in France is a strange mixture of tradition and improvisation. There is tradition in the quasi-monarchical ceremonies, such as the presentation of the gold Legion of Honour chain.

But the Fifth Republic is still a youngish institution, and much is left to the incoming head of state to choose how to run his day.

Francois Hollande wanted to present a new, modest, sober image of the presidency. So his four children and other family members were notably absent from the Elysee (a deliberate contrast with Nicolas Sarkozy's investiture).

And then in the afternoon the new president paid visits to memorials in Paris dedicated to two of his personal heroes: the late 19th-Century reformer Jules Ferry and the scientist Marie Curie.

Ferry is honoured for founding the Republican school system - though unkind souls have also pointed out that he was also a pillar of French colonialism!

All in all, Inauguration Day is an odd kind of day for any new French president, not helped in Mr Hollande's case by the awful weather. By the end, everyone is impatient to get down to business. Which is just as well, given the state of European affairs.

The chairman of the eurozone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, insisted on Monday night that they would do "everything possible" to keep Greece in the euro.

'Message of confidence'

Mr Hollande was sworn in for a five-year term at the Elysee Palace in central Paris.

Outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy shook hands with his successor in the palace's courtyard before leading him inside for a private meeting, at which France's nuclear launch codes were handed over.

The new leader asked that the inauguration ceremony be kept as low-key as possible, and invited just three dozen or so personal guests to join the 350 officials attending. Neither Mr Hollande's children nor those of his partner, Valerie Trierweiler, were there.

In his first presidential speech, Mr Hollande said he wished to deliver a "message of confidence".

"My mandate is to bring France back to justice, open up a new path in Europe, contribute to world peace and preserve the planet."

The new president said he was fully aware of challenges facing France, which he summarised as "huge debt, weak growth, reduced competitiveness, and a Europe that is struggling to emerge from a crisis".

Mr Hollande also said he wanted other European leaders to sign a pact that "ties the necessary reduction of deficit to the indispensable stimulation of the economy".

"I will tell them the necessity for our continent is to protect, in an unstable world, not only its values but its interests in the name of commercial exchange," he added.

After the inauguration, Mr Hollande rode up the Champs Elysees in an open-topped car, waving to the crowd despite the rain, before laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe.

He then paid tribute to the 19th-Century educational reformer Jules Ferry and the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Marie Curie.

Francois Hollande offered a ''message of confidence'' to the French people

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris says the 57-year-old has spent the past week preparing to take up the presidency, and now the work begins in earnest.

After the ceremonies, Mr Hollande named Jean-Marc Ayrault, leader of the Socialist group in parliament, as his prime minister.

Mr Ayrault, who is regarded as a Germanophile with good contacts in Berlin, had been widely tipped for the post.

'Compromises'

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Hollande will fly to Germany for dinner with Chancellor Merkel, who says she will welcome the new leader "with open arms".

But her embrace will hide some embarrassment, says the BBC's Europe editor Gavin Hewitt, after Mrs Merkel openly supported Mr Sarkozy in the election battle.

Start Quote

In Berlin there is suspicion of Mr Hollande. They do not like the fact that during the campaign he raised the standard against austerity and championed growth. Many saw that as a bid to reclaim French leadership in Europe”

End Quote

"We don't think the same on everything," Mr Hollande acknowledged on French television on Monday. "We'll tell each other that so that together we can reach good compromises."

Mr Hollande has demanded that a European fiscal pact that cracked down on overspending be renegotiated to include a greater emphasis on measures to stimulate growth, while Germany insists the treaty must be respected.

Whatever their differences, the crisis in the eurozone will put them under huge pressure to compromise, our correspondent says.

As the eurozone's two biggest economies - and biggest contributors to its bailout funds - Germany and France are key decision-makers over the strategy supposed to pull Europe out of crisis.

According to official figures released on Tuesday morning, the French economy showed no growth in the first quarter of 2012. Growth in the final quarter of 2011 was also revised down to 0.1% from 0.2%.

However, Germany's economy grew by a stronger than expected 0.5% in the first three months of the year.

Following his German trip, Mr Hollande will hold his first cabinet meeting on Thursday followed by a visit to Washington to meet US President Barack Obama on Friday.

 

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Hollande in power

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 23.

    More conventional economic mind-set comments on Europe's problems - as if Europe only existed because of money.
    As elsewhere, the 'haves' (Germany) win - the 'have-nots' lose.

    Quote: "But he also warned that Greece had to continue the "significant efforts" ... despite these policies having been rejected by a majority of voters."

    That's democracy?

    And the BBC don't even spot the issue...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 22.

    Germany and France Economies are outperforming ours

    Both have stronger Unions than the UK
    More employee Protection than the UK,
    Shorter working week than the UK.
    Far Lower executive Pay than the UK
    Workers on executive pay boards not seen in the UK
    Lower tax evasion by the rich than in the UK
    Less Private Schools than the UK.
    Higher Corporation tax than the UK
    and No Tories!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 21.

    Hopefully Merkel and her party will take note of the election results in France, Greece and her own back yard and realise that Europe can be subject to the undemocratic process that her and the former french government have inflicted upon it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 20.

    Why do the French always dance to the tune of Deuschland uber alles.....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 19.

    Socialists are the same the world over. 'Growth' - ie ivory tower projects - fuelled by more debt. When will they ever learn to live within their means?

  • rate this
    +31

    Comment number 18.

    I wonder if Hollande will find a note when he goes to look at their finances saying "Désolé, il n'y a pas d'argent!"... Or is that the note he'll be leaving at the end of his presidency?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 17.

    A "Spar Grocer" turned Merlin with his magic wand after old DSK could not keep behave himself. This is the President by default, after a campaign precariously balanced on hazy promises with no financial explanations. Hollande is at the Elysée, not because he is a clever economist, because he managed to distil bilious hatred for Mr Sarkozy, whom the French rejected because he told them the truth.

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 15.

    Die Mutti. will be waiting for him in Berlin. Hollande the new beacon of Tax and handout will arrive.
    The Socialists look on with fevered anticipation they hope to dig deep into the pockets of the workers again
    The Public Sector & Entitled look to suckle heavily, again from the teat of taxation.
    The tax pay looks on weary. don't worry Mutti knows best..

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 14.

    All National Leaders are making rhetorical noises about dancing to their own tune but unfortunately it is orchestrated by Frau Merkel. Germany's economy has expanded and strengthened on the back of the Euro and some would argue all these political machinations are of pure self interest, assertions about Greece leaving the Euro would being disastrous are designed to scare the eurozone.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 13.

    Great news, the start of a new dawn in europe.

    Of course Hollande will cooperate with the rest of Europe but that doesn`t mean doing exactly as he is told and nor does it mean only on others terms. Politicians across europe, including our own, are going to have to represent us, the voters, rather than their own or their pals in the business worlds interests

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 12.

    Sworn in in the morning and sworn at in the afternoon.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 11.

    If he keeps his 75% tax promise, where will the better-off French go? The British government must be rubbing their hands.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 10.

    "Francois Hollande..sworn in as French president, before travelling to Berlin.." BBC

    Good luck. Another one who failed to check his wallet before saying he wanted growth before austerity. The German finance minister has already said Germany is not in the business of funding French election promises.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    So; when we have the Northern Euro and the Southern Euro, which will France join?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 8.

    Francois Hollande says all the right things. It will be interesting if he really does cooperate as well as he claims he wants to.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 7.

    A career bureaucrat, whose main policy is to create growth by employing more civil servants.

    He may create some short term growth but it will drag France down in the longer term if he carries out his plans.

    I expect Frau Merkel will tell him in no uncertain terms where to get off, but we will only get to here the sanitise friendly version of everything rosy in the EU garden

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 6.

    Sworn in this morning, first promise broken around tea time! Ground work already laid for this broken promise as he is willing to find a compromise with Merkel. Correct me if I am wrong but didn't Sarkozy say exactly the same thing?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 5.

    Highly unlikely the German will move their position. I remember on numerous occasions Lamont, in the early 90’s, going to Germany begging them to change their economic policies for the ERM and they never budged an inch (or should I say centimetre)

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 4.

    The markets will be rubbing their hands and frothing at the mouth at the thought of the French government stringing out it's debt over an even longer period & possibly borrowing even more.

 

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