France Elects New President

Posted May 7th, 2012 at 9:35 am (UTC-5)
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France's new president-elect, Francois Hollande, has begun the work of forming a new government following his win in Sunday's runoff election.

Final results Monday show Mr. Hollande won 51.6 percent of the vote to Nicolas Sarkozy's 48.4 percent. The 57-year-old former leader of France's Socialist Party will assume office on May 15.

The vote reflected citizens' disapproval of the country's spending cuts and high unemployment. Mr. Hollande has been vocal in his opposition to many of the tough economic austerity measures in France. During an appearance before supporters Monday, he promised to reopen talks on European Union-imposed austerity measures championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy.

Ms. Merkel on Monday said the EU's fiscal pact was not negotiable, but added she would welcome the president-elect “with open arms,” saying that they would work together closely.

Mr. Hollande will be the first left-wing French leader in almost 20 years. He has promised to move quickly to implement a traditional socialist tax-and-spend program with higher taxes on the rich to help finance increased state spending.

U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned his congratulations to Mr. Hollande Sunday and invited him to the White House before the Group of Eight and NATO summits later this month.