Tue, May 15, 2012
World > Europe > 2012 French Election

Hollande sworn in as president of France

2012-05-15 09:15:31 GMT2012-05-15 17:15:31(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

French President-elect Francois Hollande gives a speech on May 14, 2012, at the "Maison de la Mutualite" conference center in Paris. Hollande was to be sworn in as France's president Tuesday before naming a prime minister and dashing to Germany to battle with Berlin over how to tackle Europe's debt crisis. (AFP Photo/Bertrand Guay)

France's outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy (left) welcomes his successor Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace for the formal handover of power ceremony in Paris. Hollande has been sworn in as France's president, becoming the country's first Socialist leader in 17 years. (AFP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure)

Francois Hollande has been sworn as the 24th president of France and the country's first socialist leader for nearly two decades.

Mr Hollande beat off rival Nicolas Sarkozy - leaving the conservative as the only president since Valery Giscard d'Estaing to fail to secure a second term.

Mr Hollande, 57, was elected to a five-year term in an election earlier this month, becoming the first socialist leader of France since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995

He set the style of his presidency by arriving at the Elysee Palace in an eco-friendly car.

He turned up in a metallic-grey DS5 hybrid Citroen - jazzed up with a sun roof.

Mr Hollande, who until recently rode to work on a scooter, pitched himself to voters as the ordinary man after the flamboyancy of the Sarkozy term.

The socialist's former partner, Segolene Royale, who lost the 2007 presidential election to Mr Sarkozy, is expected to be there - but their four children are not.

The ceremony involved an official swearing in before Mr Hollande lays a wreath of remembrance at the Arc de Triomphe.

He will then go on to meet the mayor of Paris, but the rest of his first day will be spent visiting the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Central to Mr Hollande's election promises was a pledge to renegotiate the eurozone's fiscal pact, which binds member states to austerity measures.

He has pledged to balance the budget by 2017 and get deficit down to 3% by 2013.

Other manifesto promises include returning the retirement age to 60 for those who started working at 16 and have made 41 years' of contributions.

He has also said he will introduce a headline-grabbing 75% tax rate on those with incomes above 1m euros.

Mr Hollande is walking a difficult domestic tightrope with legislative elections in just a few weeks.

He does not have long to look like he is coming good on his promises - hence his speedy departure to Germany .

Mr Hollande won the first-round vote, prompting a one-on-one second round vote with Mr Sarkozy.

Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front party, had tried to re-brand her party - still fiercely anti-immigration, but she has moved against those who are openly racist.

She refused to come out and back either second-round candidate, having done well in the first round.

Ms Le Pen too is eyeing the forthcoming legislative elections.

(Agencies)

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