The man French Socialists hope will oust Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential vote has already hit the road.
Just hours after being elected as his party’s candidate, Francois Hollande was out on the streets of Paris, carrying a rose in an echo of the last Socialist president, Francois Mitterand 17 years ago.
Hollande insisted he was not trying to be symbolic – however the imagery was strong on a day when he knew the cameras would be on him.
Analysts say the party has chosen a moderate, unifying candidate. The fact that his nicknames include Mr Normal and Mr Grey will not necessarily count against him.
And, says one expert, his very election has grabbed the attention of the French.
Frédéric Dabi from the IFOP polling institute said: “He has now gained a lot of legitimacy after his victory, after the very successful primary elections, in which 79 percent of the French took an interest. And this creates a real energy, a great dynamic for Francois Hollande. Now the toughest part starts.”
Hollande won the candidature by beating Martine Aubry in the second round of primaries. She has now pledged to do all she can to ensure he is victorious next year too.