Socialist Hollande Sworn In As French President Ahead Of Crunch Talks With Merkel

   on May 15 2012 7:15 AM
France's newly-elected President Francois Hollande is awarded "Grand Maitre" in the Order of the Legion of Honour at the handover ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Reuters
Francois Hollande became the first Socialist president of France in nearly 17 years. His first diplomatic trip as president will be a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss austerity and growth in Europe. Reuters

Francois Hollande has been sworn in as the first Socialist French President in nearly 17 years to occupy the Elysee Palace.

In his first address to the country, Hollande outlined a message of confidence, in an inauguration ceremony the new president asked to be kept as low-key as possible.

Later he will choose his prime minister before flying to Berlin for crunch talks with Greman Chancellor Angela Merkel on the future of the European austerity program, which has been championed by the chancellor.

Elected on a promise to bring growth rather than focus on simply slashing budgets and cutting spending, Hollande has set himself on a collision course with Merkel.

Merkel is a staunch advocate of the harsh economic policies that have been criticized for stifling economic growth and further exacerbating the sovereign debt crisis that has gripped several of the euro zone nations.

We are a great nation ... throughout its history, France has overcome the challenges it faced, he said.

Each time, the people have prevailed while remaining faithful to themselves.

My mandate is to bring France back to justice, open up a new way in Europe, contribute to world peace and preserve the planet.

I affirm today that there is no fatalism.

There is a common will that unites us. We will mobilise all our forces and the assets of France.

Although it is not known who Hollande will appoint as his prime minister, it will most likely be Jean-Marc Ayrault -- leader of the Socialist group in parliament and a German speaker -- according to political commentators.

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