Francois Hollande Takes Office in France

Posted May 15th, 2012 at 5:50 am (UTC-5)
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Francois Hollande has been sworn in as the new president of France.

Mr. Hollande assumed office Tuesday morning during a modest ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

The new president was greeted at the Elysee hours before his swearing-in by outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy, who Mr. Hollande defeated early last month. Mr. Hollande is the first Socialist to become French president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995.

During his nationally televised inaugural speech, the new president said he is ready to open “a new path” for his nation and Europe, with a new emphasis on growth, justice and what he described as “social democracy.”

Mr. Holland is to leave for Germany later Tuesday for his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the European sovereign debt crisis. He is expected to push to renegotiate the recent Eurozone treaty imposing budget austerity among its member nations. Mr. Hollande is calling for a greater emphasis on growth, but the German leader says the pact is non-negotiable.

The bilateral meeting is taking place amid news that the 17-nation Eurozone economy posted zero growth in the first three months of 2012 and avoided a recession. Experts had predicted the region's economy would shrink by 0.3 percent for the first quarter.

Later in the week Mr. Hollande flies to the United States where he will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday before attending a Group of Eight (G-8) summit at the presidential retreat outside Washington, and a NATO summit in Chicago.

Mr. Hollande is expected to name Jean-Marc Ayrualt, the parliamentary leader of the Socialist party, as prime minister. Ayrault will name his cabinet on Wednesday.