Francois Hollande has been officially sworn in as France’s new president, during a ceremony at the Elysée Palace in Paris. He is the first socialist to take the reigns in 17 years.
Hollande swept to victory in a recent election run- off, beating conservative Nicolas Sarkozy.
After meeting Hollande at the Palace, Sarkozy took to the steps for the final time – leaving behind him the presidency and politics altogether.
During his inaugural speech, Hollande focused on unity in France.
“The country needs healing, reconciliation, bringing together,” he said.
“This is the role of the president: to contribute to all of the French living together.”
Hollande is expected to name his prime minister today and reveal the make-up of his government on Wednesday.
After various engagements in Paris, Hollande will travel to Berlin for a working dinner with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Sarkozy handed over power in France after negotiating a strict fiscal treaty to deal with the eurozone debt crisis. Hollande intends to change all that. He repeated his plan to couple growth with austerity at his inauguration. “I will propose to my European partners a pact that ties the necessary reduction of deficit to the indispensable stimulation of the economy,” he said.
But Merkel, although weakened by disastrous regional election results in Germany, has stressed that tough European austerity policies will not be changed.
Hollande’s first challenge will be to try to build a wider consensus for his approach while agreeing on how to cope with the Greek crisis.
With his first cabinet meeting, a trip to the US, a G8 summit and a NATO conference, Hollande’s first week as president has been described as a baptism of fire.