Francois Hollande: The next French President

Last Updated: Monday, May 7, 2012 - 16:39

Paris: Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande defeated incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday`s decisive presidential runoff in France and will now become president though he has never held a government post at the national level.

Hollande will be the second left-wing president, after Francois Mitterrand, founder of the French Socialist Party, served two seven-year terms as president from 1981.

He is regarded by many as an affable moderate whose quiet - some even say dull - manner contrasts sharply with the intensity and glamour of conservative president Sarkozy, BBC reported.

The President-elect, born on August 12, 1954 in northern France, has a shining education background. He was mayor of Tulle in central France from 2001 to 2008, as well as a member of Parliament, Xinhua reported.

However, Hollande has never held a government post at the national level, which bothered some French voters and cast doubts over his ability to lead the country out of its economic crisis.

Bespectacled and with a scholarly air, Hollande has successfully portrayed himself as a "normal president" as opposed to hyperactive Sarkozy, taking advantage of public`s disappointment with the incumbent president.

In his campaign for president, Hollande pledged to fight record high unemployment, including hiring 60,000 more teachers in his term in addition to creating 150,000 state-aided jobs.

Hollande opposed a financial policy solely based on austerity, and planned to open negotiations on the European fiscal pact reached last December by adding new clauses focusing on economic growth and job creation.

He pledged to reach a zero budget gap in 2017 and urged the establishment of a European rating agency.

The Socialist also proposed a 75-percent tax rate on those who earn over EUR 1 million (USD 1.3 million) a year, and an increase in the minimum wage.

On foreign policy, Hollande said he would pull out French combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, and would only intervene in foreign countries under the UN mandate in the future.

After beating Sarkozy in the first round of the 2012 French presidential election with more than 28.6 percent of the vote, Hollande took the people by surprise in the only TV debate against the incumbent for being unusually argumentative and aggressive, revealing more strength and potential than just being "quiet" and "unflappable".

Hollande has four children with Segolene Royal, who failed to challenge Sarkozy in the 2007 election. His life companion now is Valerie Trierweiler, 47, a French journalist.

IANS



First Published: Monday, May 7, 2012 - 08:46

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