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Hollande is sworn as French president and flies to talks with Merkel in Berlin

Tuesday, May 15th 2012 - 08:30 UTC
Full article 3 comments
Hollande has vowed to refocus European economic policy on growth Hollande has vowed to refocus European economic policy on growth

Socialist Francois Hollande is to be sworn 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.

Nine days after he defeated conservative Nicholas Sarkozy in a fierce campaign, Hollande, 57, is to be inaugurated at the Elysée Palace and just a few hours later head to Germany for his first foreign visit as president.

He was 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 10:00 am (0800 GMT). 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.

At 1400 GMT 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 Euro-zone, 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.

Categories: Economy, Politics, International.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • Think

    MercoPress, the South Atlantic News Agency..............

    May 15th, 2012 - 04:26 pm 0
  • Max

    the real Europeans visit Berlin after the elections...

    the non-Europeans visit Washington after the elections...

    May 15th, 2012 - 06:17 pm 0
  • briton

    But the intelligent confident ones,
    Visit Britain Before an election lol.


    May 15th, 2012 - 07:14 pm 0
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