Hollande Prepares to Take the Lead in France

France’s newly elected president, François Hollande, took over the reins of power from Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday in a massive shift of power to the Socialist party. Sarkozy has consistently pushed for austerity measures in France, siding with Germany’s Angela Merkel in many recent fiscal discussions. But Hollande is expected to make some sharp shifts now that he has been inaugurated.

Hollande began his day with an inauguration ceremony in Paris, which did not include the presence of his or his partner’s children. Unlike Sarkozy, often cited as a flashy, well-dressed icon, Hollande had an understated affair. The two leaders shook hands with solemn faces this morning before entering into the Elysee Palace. They had a 40 minute meeting prior to Hollande’s official inauguration as president, according to the Telegraph.

During Hollande’s speech at Tuesday’s inaugural celebrations, he stated that he hoped to compromise on the austerity plans for the Eurozone led by Germany. He had been scheduled to have a ‘working dinner’ with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the end of Tuesday. As the president made his way to this iconic repast in Berlin, his first plane was struck by lightning and forced to turn back to Paris. No one was injured and he was able to take a second plane to Berlin later on Tuesday, according to BBC News. Merkel’s team has remained certain that the the EU fiscal pact cannot be renegotiated, an aim that Hollande brought to the table at the meeting.

In an interview with Slate Magazine, Hollande lamented that the Franco-German partnership has recently excluded the voices of less powerful European Union members. He hopes that a partnership with Merkel will begin an era of balance across the Eurozone. In his own words to Slate Magazine:

That balance has changed over the past few years. The Franco-German relationship has been exclusive. European institutions have been neglected and some countries, notably the more fragile ones, have had the unpleasant feeling of facing an executive board.

Hollande is probably referring to struggling countries, such as Spain and Greece, which are facing serious debt issues. Many commentators envisioned former president Sarkozy and Merkel as the perfect conservative powerhouse duo. And now there is speculation that Hollande will instigate some shifts in policy from the staunch Merkel, creating new dynamics in the European context.

Reuters has pointed out that Merkel’s stiff stance on targeted budget deficits for Greece and Spain are unrealistic and that Hollande’s aims for easing austerity measures may prove successful over the next weeks as the two leaders begin working together. His title as “Mr. Normal,” a name that was deemed to him in contrast to the flashy Sarkozy, often called the “bling-bling” president, is already getting challenged in light of his broad ambitions.

Hollande also plans to take a strong stance on the global scale and is set to meet with President Obama at the end of the week at the G8 Summit. Hollande plans to stand firm about his ideas regarding Afghanistan and Iranian nuclear programs when he does meet with President Obama, stating to Slate, “I intend to assert France’s independence without making Barack Obama’s task any more difficult.” Still, Hollande has already had to face that he cannot logistically follow through on his campaign promise to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year but must issue a lengthier time table. This foreign policy issue will be central to the G8 meeting in the coming days.

Hollande’s inauguration has brought about a swift change in policy and energy for France. Before Tuesday’s inauguration and meetings, he had taken a strong stance on feminist issues, including the redrafting of France’s sexual harrassment law. Currently, there is no active sexual harassment law on the books after legislators repealed the last law a couple of weeks ago. Proponents of the plan argued that a stronger draft needed to be written and Hollande promised a swift redrafting during his campaign. It remains to be seen what the new president will accomplish during his first months in office and how world leaders will respond to his approach.

Related Stories:

Socialist François Hollande Wins French Presidential Election

Merkel’s Party Soundly Defeated in Germany’s Largest State

France Repeals Sexual Harassment Law

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Huber F.
Huber F5 years ago


Debbie L.
Debbie Lim5 years ago

I hope he becomes a good leader for his people and for the world.

Jonathan Netherton

@Steve R.: First, France got hit hard on the financial blowout, and Sarkozy was basically trying the same things Bush tried, which made the situation worse. A restructuring of tax schedules to reflect the modern reality of finance today is sorely needed.

Second, Greece's biggest problem is that it was basically ignored by the EU except as a periphery country whose immigration policies were forced by the union to act like a net to keep brown people out. Also, their decentralized patronage system is how they redistribute wealth, and is incompatible with the Nordic model of centralized collection and disbursement.

Third, why would you add Ireland to that list? They were the picture of neoliberalism before they went catastrophically ass-up.

A N M.
anne M5 years ago

What the hell does Merkel have to do with Hitler may I ask? These are just anti-German cheap shots coming from a nation, the US, which is more of a rightwing dictatorship than even the NSDAP was 75 years ago. I'm glad Hollande won the election and I certainly hope the SPD will win the next election in Germany but I'm really getting tired of these idiotic American comments which keep centering around that short-lived 3rd Reich way back in history. Since Sarkozy and Merkel are both from right off center parties, of course they blathered about austerity just like the GOP here. What else is new? What does any of this have to do with Stalin, Hitler, or Julius Caesar for that matter? I guess it's impossible for Amnericans to move on into the 21st century.

Steve R.
Steve R5 years ago

And there goes France - good thing I've been to Paris and seen the Eiffel Tower.

Probably won't be able to afford to go again - the taxes and accommodation will be too high.

You gotta love it.

Greece, Ireland, France - NEXT?

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago

Hmmm, and where will he lead his people to, the bankruptcy courts?!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago

I hope he is successful.

Walter G.
Walter G5 years ago

OK, counting on fingers, possibly now, first Greece falls, but most of its capital has flitted away to Germany and Gurnsey, not to mention China. Next, ditto spain, Portugal, and the list of former EU countries in the line of dominoes. The real pity is that Germany, last in line, willprobably buy Brevik from Norway so they can have another furer. Oh, not to use of course, just to hold in reserve in case they want to invade Gurnsey!

Troy G.
Troy Grant5 years ago

Socialist or Capitalist, the only thing that seems to matter is if those in power are liberal or conservative. Stalin and Hitler or Lula and Kennedy?

"Why Conservatives Can't Govern" by Alan Wolfe

Donald T.
Donald T5 years ago

Like it or not, history continues to show years of neglect bring dire economic situations with government as the sole entity capable of adding to debt to help The People come out of such dire times then able to help the government in return. Recently, here, 2009, Obama instituted the stimulus as begun by Bush and, among other good/bad items on the agenda, saved the auto industry and the many effected peripherally by the downturn. Contrary to Mitty, private industry was not interested in saving the auto jobs, parts jobs, paint jobs, service jobs, etc. A major success has paid back the government, The People, with dividends. I am hopefull Holllande and Merckel will bite the bullet and dig deeper to help people then be smart and make proper cuts. I have no such hope for us dumb americans who see a fund of money and have no scruples grabbing it. Mitty, retrospectively, would have liked to squeeze every last asset out of the auto industry et al and dump it; it is his history.