Hollande prepares to take over French presidency

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Hollande prepares to take over French presidency

Hollande prepares to take over French presidency
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It is a big week for French president-elect Francois Hollande. He will officially take over the top job on Tuesday, after sealing victory in the recent election run-off.

Incumbent conservative Nicolas Sarkozy will stand on the steps of the Elysee Palace in Paris for the final time to greet Hollande, who will become the country’s first Socialist president in nearly a quarter of a century.

Hollande is expected to name his prime minister shortly after an inauguration ceremony. The make-up of the government will be revealed on Wednesday.

The deputy mayor of Nantes Jean-Marc Ayrault and party first secretary Martine Aubry are thought to be in the running for the prime minister job.

For Hollande, analysts say it is crucial he establishes his credibility as a European leader.

“The European partners will be observing him attentively with a mix of suspicion and sympathy. And they’re expecting a serious man. That’s to say a man who knows his brief and who is credible,” said Philippe Moreau Defarges, from the French International Relations Institute.

Within hours of taking over as president, Hollande will head to Berlin for a working dinner with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

They have much to talk about. Hollande has hit out at Germany’s emphasis on austerity to tackle eurozone debt. Merkel has already warned the European fiscal pact is not up for renegotiation.

The challenges facing Hollande are immediate. Greece is in turmoil after its recent elections and it may have to ditch the euro.

Hollande is also meeting US president Barack Obama this week and attending the G8 Summit and a NATO conference.