With 51.62 percent of votes in France’s runoff election against incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande was elected on Sunday, May 6, becoming the nation’s first Socialist president since François Mitterand left office in 1995, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Libération and le Point reported. Hollande, known for his persona of normalcy, benefitted considerably from the lack of popularity of incumbent Sarkozy and a general discontent with the policies he pursued. A poll taken the day of the elections showed that 52 percent of those who voted for Hollande defined their ballot as a vote against Sarkozy, according to 20 Minutes and the Washington Post. As Hollande’s victory embodied a lack of support for Sarkozy’s domestic policy, CNN and the LA Times explored how Hollande’s election could change France’s relationship with the outside world, as Sarkozy had worked closely with Germany to address the European debt crisis and worked to boost the nation’s military stature through more assertive policy in the Middle East and greater involvement in NATO.
Heading to work on Monday, May 7, President-elect François Hollande announced that he would name his Prime Minister on May 15, the day he is set to assume his role as president of France. Speculation has focused on three potential selections, notably President of the National Assembly Socialist Group Jean-Marc Ayrault, the AP, TF1 and les Echos reported. Hollande said he plans to waste no time in naming his cabinet, and he has already set an appointment with German Chancellor Angela Merkel the day after his inauguration on May 16, to be followed by a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama before the G8 summit at Camp David, the NATO summit in Chicago, the G20 Summit, and the European Summit all scheduled for the first six weeks of his presidency. The first challenge for Hollande comes as the world considers his forthcoming relationship with Merkel, who has already expressed on Monday, May 7, a refusal to re-examine the austerity pact signed by 25 of 27 European Union members, according to the Telegraph and le Figaro.
A day after becoming the first incumbent French president to lose his re-election campaign since Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 1981, President Nicolas Sarkozy gathered his electoral committee at the Elysée Palace on Monday, May 7, for an hour long meeting at which Sarkozy announced that he was leaving political life, the AP and le Figaro reported. In addition to voicing a desire to return to a normal life out of the spotlight, Sarkozy said he would not run for election in June’s legislative elections, according to France 24.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) confirmed in a statement dated Thursday, May 3, that they were holding French journalist Romeo Langlois, who went missing during an attack by FARC rebels on Colombian armed forces being accompanied by Langlois on April 28, CBS reported. As a condition for Langlois’ release, the FARC statement demanded that an international debate be opened on “the freedom to inform,” expressing doubt about the impartiality of journalists who travel alongside the state military, according to the Guardian and le Monde.