France has awoken to a new era after electing Socialist Francois Hollande as president, a leftist pledging to buck Europe’s austerity trend and NATO’s timetable for Afghanistan.
After an appearance before thronging crowds on Paris’ Place de la Bastille in the early morning hours yesterday, during which he pledged “to finish with austerity,” Hollande was back at work, -arriving at his campaign headquarters at about 10:30am.
Hollande will officially become president next Tuesday, the date for the handover ceremony that the two campaign teams agreed yesterday.
Before then, the president-elect is due to appear alongside Sarkozy at a ceremony today marking the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
Hollande has his work cut out to fulfill the hopes his victory has stirred on France’s Left, overjoyed to have one of their own in power for the first time since Socialist former French president Francois Mitterrand from 1981 to 1995.
Among the other international leaders calling to congratulate Hollande was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who told reporters in Berlin yesterday that she and Hollande had spoken for the first time late on Sunday.
“We said we will work well and intensively together,” she said.
Merkel cautioned against hopes that the austerity measures already agreed by European leaders could now be renegotiated.
“We in Germany, and I personally, believe the fiscal pact is not up for negotiation,” she said.
While some market players have worried about a Hollande presidency, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said his election “has no immediate impact” on France’s “AA+” credit rating or a negative outlook.
Final results from France’s presidential election show Hollande narrowly defeated Sarkozy with 51.62 percent of the vote, or by 1.13 million of the 37 million votes cast in Sunday’s election.