About France Category: History
François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande, born 12 August 1954, is the current President of France and joint head of state of the Principality of Andorra.
He was previously the first secretary of the French Socialist Party from 1997 to 2008, and the deputy of the National Assembly of France for Corrèze’s 1st constituency from 1988 to 1993 and then again from 1997 to 2012.
He also served as the mayor of Tulle from 2001 to 2008 and the president of the General Council of Corrèze from 2008 to 2012.
He was elected president of France on 6 May 2012, defeating the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, and was sworn in on 15 May. He is the second Socialist Party president of the French Fifth Republic, after François Mitterrand.
Personal lifeFor over 30 years, his partner was fellow Socialist politician Ségolène Royal, with whom he has four children: Thomas (1984), Clémence (1985), Julien (1987) and Flora (1992). In June 2007, just a month after Royal’s defeat in the French presidential election of 2007, the couple announced that they were separating.A few months after his split from Ségolène Royal was announced, a French website published details of a relationship between Hollande and French journalist Valérie Trierweiler. This disclosure was controversial, as some considered it to be a breach of France’s strict stance on the privacy of politicians’ personal affairs. In November 2007, Valérie Trierweiler confirmed and openly discussed her relationship with Hollande in an interview with the French weekly Télé 7 Jours. She remains an employee of the magazine Paris Match.
Early Life and Political career
François Hollande was born in Rouen to an upper-middle-class family. His mother, Nicole Frédérique Marguerite Tribert (1927–2009), was a social worker, and his father, Georges Gustave Hollande, an ear, nose, and throat doctor who “had once run for the far right in local politics.” Hollande was raised Catholic but is now an agnostic. (In December 2011, Hollande told the French Christian magazine La Vie that he respects all religious practices but has none of his own.) The family moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine, a highly exclusive suburb of Paris, when Hollande was 13.
He attended Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-la-Salle boarding school, a private Catholic school in Rouen, then HEC Paris, the Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Paris Institute of Political Studies), and the École nationale d’administration. He graduated from ENA in 1980 and chose to enter the prestigious Cour des comptes. He lived in the United States in the summer of 1974 while he was a university student. Immediately after graduating, he was employed as a councillor in the Court of Audit.
Early political career
After volunteering as a student to work for François Mitterrand’s ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the 1974 presidential election, Hollande joined the Socialist Party five years later. He was quickly spotted by Jacques Attali, a senior adviser to Mitterrand, who arranged for Hollande to stand for election to the French National Assembly in 1981 in Corrèze against future President Jacques Chirac, who was then the Leader of the Rally for the Republic, a Neo-Gaullist party. Hollande lost to Chirac in the first round.
He would go on to become a special advisor to newly elected President Mitterrand, before serving as a staffer for Max Gallo, the government’s spokesman. After becoming a municipal councillor for Ussel in 1983, he contested Corrèze for a second time in 1988, this time being elected to the National Assembly. Hollande lost his bid for re-election to the National Assembly in the so-called “blue wave” of the 1993 election, described as such due to the number of seats gained by the Right at the expense of the Socialist Party.
First Secretary of the Socialist Party
As the end of Mitterrand’s term in office approached, the Socialist Party was torn by a struggle of internal factions, each seeking to influence the direction of the party. Hollande pleaded for reconciliation and for the party to unite behind Jacques Delors, the president of the European Commission, but Delors renounced his ambitions to run for the French presidency in 1995, leading to Lionel Jospin’s resuming his earlier position as the leader of the party. Jospin selected Hollande to become the official party spokesman, and Hollande went on to contest Corrèze once again in 1997, successfully returning to the National Assembly.
That same year, Jospin became the prime minister of France, and Hollande won the election for his successor as first secretary of the French Socialist Party, a position he would hold for eleven years. Because of the very strong position of the Socialist Party within the French Government during this period, Hollande’s position led some to refer to him the “vice prime minister”. Hollande would go on to be elected mayor of Tulle in 2001, an office he would hold for the next seven years.
The immediate resignation of Jospin from politics following his shock defeat by far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of the 2002 presidential election forced Hollande to become the public face of the party for the 2002 legislative election but, although he managed to limit defeats and was re-elected in his own constituency, the Socialists lost nationally. In order to prepare for the 2003 party congress in Dijon, he obtained the support of many notable personalities of the party and was re-elected first secretary against opposition from left-wing factions.
François Hollande in 2004
After the triumph of the Left in the 2004 regional elections, Hollande was cited as a potential presidential candidate, but the Socialists were divided on the European Constitution, and Hollande’s support for the ill-fated “Yes” position in the French referendum on the European constitution caused friction within the party. Although Hollande was re-elected as first secretary at the Le Mans Congress in 2005, his authority over the party began to decline from this point onwards. Eventually his domestic partner, Ségolène Royal, was chosen to represent the Socialist Party in the 2007 presidential election, where she would lose to Nicolas Sarkozy.
Hollande was widely blamed for the poor performances of the Socialist Party in the 2007 elections, and he announced that he would not seek another term as first secretary. Hollande publicly declared his support for Bertrand Delanoë, the mayor of Paris, although it was Martine Aubry who would go on to win the race to succeed him in 2008.
Following his resignation as first secretary, Hollande was immediately elected to replace Jean-Pierre Dupont as the president of the General Council of Corrèze in April 2008, a position he holds to this day. In 2008 he supported the creation of the first European Prize for Local History (Étienne Baluze Prize), founded by the “Société des amis du musée du cloître” of Tulle, on the suggestion of the French historian Jean Boutier. François Hollande awarded the first prize on 29 February 2008 to the Italian historian Beatrice Palmero in the General Council of Corrèze.
Candidacy for President
Following his re-election as president of the General Council of Corrèze in March 2011, Hollande announced that he would be a candidate in the upcoming primary election to select the Socialist and Radical Left Party presidential nominee. The primary marked the first time that both parties had held an open primary to select a joint nominee at the same time. He initially trailed the front-runner, former finance minister and International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Following Strauss-Kahn’s arrest on suspicion of sexual assault in New York City in May 2011, Hollande began to lead the opinion polls. His position as front-runner was established just as Strauss-Kahn declared that he would no longer be seeking the nomination. After a series of televised debates throughout September, Hollande topped the ballot in the first round held on 9 October with 39% of the vote, not gaining the 50% required to avoid a second ballot, which he would contest against Martine Aubry, who had come second with 30% of the vote.
The second ballot took place on 16 October 2011. Hollande won with 56% of the vote to Aubry’s 43% and thus became the official Socialist and Radical Left Party candidate for the 2012 presidential election. After the primary results, he immediately gained the pledged support of the other contenders for the party’s nomination, including Aubry, Arnaud Montebourg, Manuel Valls and 2007 candidate Ségolène Royal.
Hollande’s presidential campaign was managed by Pierre Moscovici and Stéphane Le Foll, a member of Parliament and Member of the European Parliament respectively. Hollande launched his campaign officially with a rally and major speech at Le Bourget on 22 January 2012 in front of 25,000 people. The main themes of his speech were equality and the regulation of finance, both of which he promised to make a key part of his campaign.
On 26 January, he outlined a full list of policies in a manifesto containing 60 propositions, including the separation of retail activities from riskier investment-banking businesses; raising taxes on big corporations, banks and the wealthy; creating 60,000 teaching jobs; bringing the official retirement age back down to 60 from 62; creating subsidised jobs in areas of high unemployment for the young; promoting more industry in France by creating a public investment bank; granting marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples; and pulling French troops out of Afghanistan in 2012. On 9 February, he detailed his policies specifically relating to education in a major speech in Orléans.
On 15 February, incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he would run for a second and final term, strongly criticising Hollande’s proposals and claiming that he would bring about “economic disaster within two days of taking office” if he won.
Hollande visited Berlin, Germany, in December 2011 for the Social Democrats Federal Party Congress, at which he met Sigmar Gabriel, Peer Steinbrück, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Martin Schulz; he also travelled to Belgium before the United Kingdom in February 2012, where he met with Opposition Leader Ed Miliband; and finally Tunisia in May 2012.
Opinion polls showed a tight race between the two men in the first round of voting, with most polls showing Hollande comfortably ahead of Sarkozy in a hypothetical second round run-off.
The first round of the presidential election was held on 22 April. François Hollande came in first place with 28.63% of the vote, and faced Nicolas Sarkozy in the second round run-off. In the second round of voting on 6 May 2012, François Hollande was elected President of the French Republic with 51.7% of the vote.
Presidency (2012 – )
François Hollande was elected President of France on 6 May 2012. He was inaugurated on 15 May, and shortly afterwards appointed Jean-Marc Ayrault to be his Prime Minister. He also appointed Benoît Puga to be the military’s chief of staff, Pierre-René Lemas as his general secretary and Pierre Besnard as his Head of Cabinet. On his first official visit to a foreign country in his capacity as president of France, the airplane transporting him was hit by lightning. The plane returned safely to Paris where he took another flight to Germany. The first measures he took were to lower the income of the president, the prime minister, and other members of the government by 30%, and to make them sign a “code of ethics”.
Hollande’s economic policies are wide-ranging, including supporting the creation of a European credit rating agency, the separation of lending and investment in banks, reducing the share of electricity generated by nuclear power in France from 75 to 50% in favour of renewable energy sources, merging income tax and the General Social Contribution (CSG), creating an additional 45% for additional income of 150,000 euros, capping tax loopholes at a maximum of €10,000 per year, and questioning the relief solidarity tax on wealth (ISF, Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune) measure that should bring €29 billion in additional revenue.
Hollande has also signalled his intent to implement a 75% income tax rate on revenue earned above 1,000,000 euros per year, to generate the provision of development funds for deprived suburbs, and to return to a deficit of zero percent of GDP by 2017. The 75% tax plan has proven controversial, however, and an initial attempt at implementing it on individuals was ruled unconstitutional in December 2012.
Hollande has also announced several reforms to education, pledging to recruit 60,000 new teachers, to create a study allowance and means-tested training, and to set up a mutually beneficial contract that would allow a generation of experienced employees and craftsmen to be the guardians and teachers of younger newly hired employees, thereby creating a total of 150,000 subsidized jobs. This has been complemented by the promise of aid to SMEs, with the creation of a public bank investment-oriented SME’s, and a reduction of the corporate tax rate to 30% for medium corporations and 15% for small.
Hollande’s government has announced plans to construct 500,000 public homes per year, including 150,000 social houses, funded by a doubling of the ceiling of the A passbook, the region making available its local government land within five years. In accordance with long-standing Socialist Party policy, Hollande has announced that the retirement age will revert to 60, for those who have contributed for more than 41 years.
Hollande has also announced his personal support for same-sex marriage and adoption for LGBT couples, and has outlined plans to pursue the issue in early 2013. In July 2012, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced that “In the first half of 2013, the right to marriage and adoption will be open to all couples, without discrimination […]”, confirming this election promise by Hollande.
The bill to legalize same-sex marriage, known as Bill no. 344, was introduced to the National Assembly of France on 7 November 2012. On 12 February 2013, the National Assembly approved the bill in a 329-229 vote. The Senate approved the full bill with a 171-165 majority on 12 April with minor amendments. On 23 April, the National Assembly approved the amended bill, in a 331-225 vote, and following approval of the law by the Constitutional Council of France, it was signed into law by President François Hollande on May 18, 2013, with the first same-sex weddings under the law taking place eleven days later.
As President, Hollande promised an early withdrawal of French combat troops present in Afghanistan in 2012. He also pledged to conclude a new contract of Franco-German partnership, advocating the adoption of a Directive on the protection of public services. Hollande has proposed “an acceleration of the establishment of a Franco-German civic service, the creation of a Franco-German research office, the creation of a Franco-German industrial fund to finance common competitiveness clusters, and the establishment of a common military headquarters”.
As well as this, Hollande has expressed a wish to “combine the positions of the presidents of the European Commission and of the European Council (currently held by José Manuel Barroso and Herman van Rompuy respectively) into a single office…and that it should be directly chosen” by the members of the European Parliament.
On 11 January 2013, Hollande authorised the execution of Operation Serval, which aimed to curtail the activities of Islamic extremists in the north of Mali. The intervention was popularly supported in Mali, as Hollande promised that his government would do all it could to “rebuild Mali”. During his one-day visit to Bamako, Mali’s capital, on February 2, 2013, he said that it was “the most important day in [his] political life”.