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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  • Comment number 323.

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

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 322.

    One thing for sure is that Mr Hollande has show a lot more political nous than our own out-of-touch priviledged lot. Promising a 75% tax rate for those earning over the equivalent £800,000 was a political masterstroke guaranteeing victory and more or less saying to the banking wealth-sucking leeches 'au revoir vos toads,allez a angleterre' -no pun intended. It's a good start and I wish him well.

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 321.

    @303.billyhano

    I think you'll find that the Chinese are socialist (well communist) by name only....nothing more.

    Anyone who truly believes China is remotely socialist is very mistaken.......millions living on or below the poverty line, obscene wealth for others.....oppressed by a government that locks you up if you dare speak against them.......doesn't sound very socialist to me..!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 320.

    To the best of my knowledge, Merkel is the first female Chancellor of Germany, and has not been elected as Head of the United States of Europe.

    In 1939, The UK came to ais of a war affected Europe, the baton has now apparently passed to France.

    I for one hope that M. Hollande can tame the German Frau.

    Bon chance Francois.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 319.

    @307

    but that doenst mean that the Commonwealth isnt close to us and could possibly make much better trade partners than the EU.

    Same goes for the BRICS nations.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 318.

    303. billyhano

    Yeah, them socialists running China haven't a clue on how to create an economic superpower. Do they?

    ---

    You actually think China is being built on socialist economic principles?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 317.

    People making the 'Germany to blame' versus 'Greeks should be more like Germans' argument should stop and listen to each other. Both make good points. German thrift, efficiency and long-term planning should be an example to everyone. German head-in-the-sands attitudes to the consequences of internal trade imbalances when they're benefiting from them on the other hand, not a great example.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 316.

    As the leader of one of the most powerful countries in Europe, President Hollande has a voice that dserves to be heard and indeed will be heard and listened to by all.
    He represents the views on the Euro crisis of probably at least half of the European people.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 315.

    You can't save money by spending it!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 314.

    Bonne Chance President Hollande. For us poor b***ers in the UK all we have got is Cameron & Co and no real strategy for growth for the next 3 years. Perhaps, as is our right under EU law, we should all move to France?
    Now that would be interesting if we all turned up at Calais and demanded a home, a job or French state benefits. There is only one problem with that nobody would understand us!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 313.

    303. billyhano

    Yeah, them socialists running China haven't a clue on how to create an economic superpower. Do they?

    Is China what you want? Low pay and limited human rights? If your workers work for nowt in poor conditions then you can sell all you can make.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 312.

    257. perkinwellbeck 25MINUTES AGO typical rightwing rant from krodil

    I merely asked if you lost your benefits.
    Then you went on....

    i've paid for my pension with years off hard graft,i own my large detached house too.it is because i've so much i care for those that have not.something lost on small minded individuals.

    Sounds like your a champagne socialist.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 311.

    @296 Bossuk

    "Actually economics as a theory works very well.". []

    Works well at what? Cyclically wiping out the gains it made in the boom?

    "generally people with absolutely no idea how to run a country and put the practises in motion.".

    And who is it that you believe 'knows' how to run a country? Those respected economists are roundly ignored by other respected economists.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 310.

    When you lay off public sector workers, yes, you lose their taxes but you also save a lot of money on their salaries. That saving is by far the greater even when you factor in the benefits that it will cost you to pay them and the taxes lost. So culling an overbloated public sector will save you money. Go figure

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 309.

    BTW, fair play for the live translation, but I was a bit shocked by the low quality of the translation: fatalité does NOT translate to Fatality in English. It means Fate, destiny ....Employment was mentioned by F.Hollande but not translated

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 308.

    #283. Oliver N

    Yep...all human beings are as self-seeking and uncaring as you...proof at last (from somewhere).....Hoorah!! Well done!!!

    I say we cut the c$%p and return to the middle ages when the rich really knew how to rule!!!!

    You, of course, will be Lord Oliver(?)

    Perhaps rather than seeking to justify your own pathetic view of humanity you could try and be more positive

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 307.

    Re 293. Good idea. But even Australia now does more trade with Asia, and frankly most of its new population are from Asia with little historic loyalty to the UK. If the credit crunch should have taught 'little englanders' anything, it is that we live in a truly global economy. Capital will move to whereever it earns the most & there are no loyalties. British companies behave in just the same way.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 306.

    Being sad, I used to play an internet game.
    It involved war, trade and other stuff.

    I found out this amazing thing. The more countries I traded with, the richer my country got. I could export all over the place because I was Britain and an island.

    I felt sorry for the European countries. They weren't islands & could only trade with their immediate neighbours.

    I won all the time.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 305.

    @ 291
    'Perhaps he'll adopt Gordon Brown's "Golden Rule"'

    I remember that golden rule. Sell all the gold reserve at a historic market low.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 304.

    And so Francois waves his magic wand…try again..And so Francois waves his magic wand…..doh!

 

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