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
    0

    Comment number 683.

    681. Glamorgan12
    +++
    Really, its the poor little pensioner who loses out?

    Not Goldman Sachs or Georges Sorors, Joe E Lewis, Schroders, J P Morgan, Klienwart Benson etc etc..

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 682.

    People have to remember in this day and age pretty much all "wealth" is metaphysical, it doesn't really exist. Its just all binary code with no realtion to physical reality. And to finish, I can't remember who said it but, "Everything after the first million is metaphysical"

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 681.

    Every one who has saved. Basically your idea is reward the proflagant - borrow whatever as don't have to pay it back- by punishing the prudent - whose savings are wiped out.,how fair is that. Virtually every pensioner - who hasbpaidcinto a pension - as well as the funds that pay their pensions will be wiped out. Again how is that fair.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 680.

    679. Glamorgan12
    If you borrow money you have to pay it back if you want people to lend to you again.
    +++
    If the whole world decided that they were not going to pay their debts, who loses out?

    Who would lose and who would gain if we started again from scratch?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 679.

    If you borrow money you have to pay it back if you want people to lend to you again. . If unwilling or unable to pay then don't borrow- most European governments seem to think can always meet cost by way of growth - growth must however be finate as we live on a limited resource. Limit of European growth probably met so choice limited.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 678.

    337.FedUp With PC
    11 Hours ago
    It is no good picking at tid-bits from the German model. It is successful as a complete package, based on science, engineering, manufacturing and finance.

    ----

    You left out debt forgiveness and charity.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 677.

    I get the impression that everyone on here tonight has had one too many!

    Shape up people!

  • Comment number 676.

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

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 675.

    656.
    Ireland's economy was subjected to blanket interest rates not fit for it, like the entire eurozone, according to Germany's.

    Result: There was no 'boom', Ireland had increased living standards for a short while from insane borrowing resulting in more money in the economy to spend, at least temporarily. They bought German cars and bought over-priced houses until collapse.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 674.

    669. Wakeupthesheeple
    There are competent, hard-working people in both public and private sectors doing valuable work; there are lazy, incompetent people doing unneccessary work in both the public and private sectors. The difference is that the latter last ten minutes in the private sector (excepting trade union representatives), and until retirement, with a super pension, in the public sector.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 673.

    Strange. I thought he was put in charge of France and here he is running Europe with Big A!

    Isn't Barosso supposed to be running Europe - what happened to him?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 672.

    671.billyhano

    No the actual definition of "Austerity", "Difficult economic conditions created by government measures to reduce public expenditure, a policy of deficit-cutting by lowering spending often via a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided and are sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to demonstrate long-term fiscal. solvency to creditors,"

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 671.

    669.
    Wakeupthesheeple

    Austerity means: Cutting the standard of living of working people to enable those at the top, who caused the financial problems, to increase their standard of living.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 670.

    656.
    stephenruss


    "By increasing the size of the public sector (i.e the unproductive economy) ?"

    --
    Gordon Brown did that from 1997. Result: 10 years of boom, then bust.

    Ireland (the Celtic Tiger) did the complete opposite from 1997: Slashed business taxes; massively increased entrepreneurs and inward investment (i.e the productive economy). Result: 10 years of boom, then an even bigger bust.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 669.

    #667, the use of "austerity" and "austerity measures". They are cuts, cuts to public spending, cuts to public sector jobs and cuts to the welfare of the public. Such euphemisms are designed to hide the truth.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 668.

    667.carbonbasebloke

    Really? I was at my brothers house the other day and in the span of 3 minutes the BBC news reporter used the word "growth" like 10 times.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 667.

    Listening to the BBC I am amazed how many times they repeat the word 'austerity'
    'austerity'
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    'austerity'
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    'austerity'
    'austerity'
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    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'
    'austerity'

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 666.

    "Francois Hollande becomes France's new president"

    ===

    Correct.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 665.

    If the system isn't working, try a different system

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 664.

    Suspect we are at a watershed in history - 60 odd years from 60s till now will be seen by history as a golden era of prosperity. I pity future generation who will have to pay for it.

 

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