Senior Correspondent, France
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May 15, 2012

France’s Hollande gets stormy welcome to power

PARIS (Reuters) – Francois Hollande was greeted by a thunderstorm in Paris and storm clouds gathering over the euro zone as France’s first Socialist president in 17 years was sworn in on Tuesday before flying to Berlin to plead his case for less austerity in Europe.

Hollande’s first day in power was marred by a downpour as he rode by open-top car through Paris to mark his investiture, and lightning that hit his presidential jet, forcing him to make a U-turn en route to Germany and switch to a smaller Falcon jet.

May 15, 2012

Hollande sworn in as new French president

PARIS (Reuters) – Francois Hollande was sworn in as France’s first Socialist president in 17 years in a brief ceremony on Tuesday before a dash to Berlin to challenge German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s austerity prescription for Europe.

In his inaugural speech to some 400 guests, Hollande said he would seek to amend a European pact to add growth-boosting measures to deficit-cutting policies that critics say are dampening the bloc’s growth prospects.

May 11, 2012

French president’s partner dubbed the new Iron Lady

PARIS, May 11 (Reuters) – Beyond movie star looks and
sunglasses, the woman who takes over as France’s first lady next
Tuesday is fast making her mark as a feisty character who some
media outlets are already dubbing the Iron Lady.

Valerie Trierweiler, a Paris Match reporter, limited herself
for the past year to accompanying Francois Hollande on campaign
sorties, and looked mildly intimidated when the president-elect
lured her onstage for a kiss after his May 6 election victory.

May 7, 2012

Markets, Germany wary as Hollande wins in France

PARIS (Reuters) – Francois Hollande’s election as French president was greeted by jitters on European markets and a dour front in Berlin where ruling conservatives warned the Socialist that Germans were not ready to fund his promises of an end to austerity.

With investors spooked by Greek voters’ rejection of parties which slashed budgets to secure an EU/IMF bailout, festivities in Paris after Hollande defeated centre-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday soon gave way to a grim sense of getting down to the business of dealing with Europe’s deep economic crisis.

May 6, 2012

Hollande’s first words are for youth and fairness

PARIS (Reuters) – Francois Hollande, the man who plans to be France’s “Mr Normal” president, has stopped going to work by scooter but told voters he will still take the train and do the family shopping as head of state – at least, he jokes, “if the fridge is empty”.

As soon as he ended his 15-minute victory speech on Sunday, he was whisked away under police escort, underlining the limits to “normality” that security will impose. But the declaration of intent was part of the strategy that swept him to power.

May 6, 2012

For “Mr. Normal” Hollande it’s bye-bye bling bling

PARIS (Reuters) – Francois Hollande, the man who wants to be France’s “Mr Normal” president, has stopped going to work by scooter but tells voters he will still take the train and do the family shopping once elected – at least, he jokes, “if the fridge is empty”.

The 57-year-old Socialist has spent more than a year on the campaign trail, building his stature as a statesman, finetuning his tax-and-spend manifesto, and promising to do away with the brash style that earned Nicolas Sarkozy the nickname “president bling bling”.

May 3, 2012

French may get first working mum as First Lady

PARIS (Reuters) – The unmarried woman set to become France’s First Lady if Francois Hollande is elected president as expected on Sunday says she will happily play a supporting role but above all she wants to remain a journalist and a working mother.

Valerie Trierweiler, 47, dares to think she can couple the ceremonial role with a long-term media career and continue to provide for three teenage sons the twice-divorced reporter had before she and Hollande formed a couple several years ago.

May 2, 2012

Hollande would govern with male veterans, new women

PARIS (Reuters) – If Socialist challenger Francois Hollande wins Sunday’s French presidential election as expected, his government would include trusted old hands and as many women as men.

The lion’s share of cabinet posts would go to Hollande’s centre-left Socialist Party, with at most a few jobs reserved for Greens, Communists or other left-wing allies if they accept his program, as in the last left-wing government in 1997-2002.

Apr 26, 2012

French May Day labor fest sparks election battle

PARIS (Reuters) – Left-winger Francois Hollande accused President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday of trying to hijack a centuries-old May Day celebration of labor rights for political ends days before France’s presidential election runoff.

Hollande, tipped to beat the conservative Sarkozy in the May 6 ballot, faulted his adversary for calling a rival rally near the Eiffel Tower on May 1 in a challenge to the annual trade union event.

Apr 23, 2012

Sarkozy courts French far right after Hollande win

By Daniel Flynn and Brian Love

(Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy appealed directly to far right voters on Monday with pledges to get tough on immigration and security, after a record showing in a first round election by the National Front made them potential kingmakers.

Polls show centre-right leader Sarkozy on course to become the first French president to lose a bid for re-election in more than 30 years, trailing Socialist challenger Francois Hollande ahead of a May 6 run-off.