• France's news in English

Hollande to take over French presidency

AFP · 15 May 2012, 07:58

Published: 15 May 2012 07:58 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Socialist Francois Hollande will be sworn in as France's president on Tuesday before naming a prime minister and dashing to Germany to battle with Berlin over how to tackle Europe's debt crisis.


Nine days after he defeated right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy in a fierce campaign, Hollande, 57, will be inaugurated at the Elysee Palace and only hours later head to Germany for his first foreign visit as president.

He is also set to make the much-anticipated announcement of who will lead his government as prime minister, with Jean-Marc Ayrault, the head of the Socialists' parliamentary bloc, tipped as frontrunner.

Hollande is expected to be sworn in shortly after meeting Sarkozy at the Elysee at around 10am.

The ceremony itself will be relatively simple -- with no other heads of state invited -- and Hollande will then take an open-topped ride in a Citroen up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, waving to the crowd.

In separate ceremonies, he will then pay tribute to 19th-century educational reformer Jules Ferry -- father of France's free, secular education system -- and to Marie Curie, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist.

At 4pm Hollande will fly to Berlin, where he faces an uncertain reception from Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Sarkozy ally and the main backer of the European Union's fiscal austerity drive.

Hollande has vowed to refocus European economic policy on growth by re-opening talks on a fiscal pact agreed in March that aims to control European debt by enshrining greater budget discipline.

The deal was Merkel's brainchild and she has repeatedly insisted since Hollande's election that the pact, signed by 25 of the 27 EU countries and already ratified in some, is not open to renegotiation.

But observers say there is room for compromise, with Hollande likely to agree to additional stimulus measures without a rewrite of the pact.

And with political paralysis in Greece raising the spectre of the country being forced from the eurozone, the heads of Europe's two largest economies will be keen to reassure worried markets they can work together.

Before he heads to Berlin, Hollande's first order of business will be to nominate a prime minister, who will be tasked with forming a government before a first cabinet session likely on Thursday.

The Socialists have been careful to let nothing slip, but Ayrault, a 62-year-old longtime Hollande ally, is considered first in line for the job.

Other contenders include Socialist Party leader and former labour minister Martine Aubry, Hollande's communications director during the campaign, Manuel Valls, and his campaign and transition chief Pierre Moscovici.

Once the cabinet is named, the focus will move to the Socialists' campaign to win a parliamentary majority in June's legislative elections -- a key test for the party after Hollande's win.

New official estimates of how the French economy performed in the first quarter are also due on Tuesday.

Hollande has ordered an audit of government finances, but EU forecasts suggest he will struggle to meet his goal of cutting the deficit to three percent of gross domestic product by 2013 and balancing the books by 2017.

After Merkel, Hollande heads to the United States where he is to meet President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday ahead of back-to back G8 then NATO summits.

These meetings are also expected to be a test for the new leader, as he explains his decision to pull French forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, a year ahead of schedule.


Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available