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Image: Screengrab via BBC News

In pictures: How to... become French president in 7 steps

Francois Hollande was sworn in as the seventh president of France’s Fifth Republic today. Here’s how it all unfolded…
May 15th 2012, 11:52 AM 3,651 14

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE HAS today been sworn in as France’s new president at a ceremony in Paris.

At an official handover ceremony in the French capital, the Socialist Party leader became the first left-wing politician to take office at the Élysée Palace since Francois Mitterand.

On hand was the outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy who greeted Hollande on the steps of the Elysee Palace, just over a week after he was beaten in the presidential run-off vote.

Then around 400 guests attended a swearing in ceremony, here’s how it unfolded…

1. The awkward moment when you have to let the nuclear weapons go

After greeting his successor on the steps of the presidential palace, Sarkozy and Hollande got down to business, namely the handing over of the nuclear launch codes which understandably was all done in private.

Through gritted teeth? Photo: Michel Euler/AP/Press Association Images

“Élysée Palace? Oooo, lovely!” outgoing first lady Carla Bruni greets Hollande’s partner Valerie Trierweiler. Photo: AP Photo/Jacques Brinon

2. Sealing the deal

At a formal handover ceremony, Hollande signed a statement and was sworn in as the new president, the seventh of France’s Fifth Republic, for a five year term.

He was also awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the oldest and highest distinction in all of France which is the equivalent of a knighthood in Britain, or winning the All-Ireland senior football championship in Ireland (well, not really).

Soon enough, the website of the Elysee Palace was changed to reflect the new regime:

3. Addressing the people

In his inaugural address, Hollande said all the things one would expect of a new president, promising to fight for unity and reconciliation and to lead by example.

“My mandate is to bring France back to justice, open up a new way in Europe, contribute to world peace and preserve the planet.” No pressure then.

Photo: AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, Pool

4. Down the Champs-Élysées

It is tradition for a new president to head down the Champs-Élysées towards the Arc de Triomphe. We’re not sure if it’s tradition to do it in a classic Citroen DS as Hollande did today but thankfully the sunroof allowed him to pop out and wave to the people… and get absolutely drenched in the process:

The BBC’s Daniel Sandford even noted that the convoy stopped at a red light for traffic. Humble.

5. Laying a wreath

Once at the Arc de Triomphe, the new president laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then there was a rendition of La Marseillaise. All the while the new president looked like he was in dire need of a towel:

6. Meet the fans

After the formalities are taken care of, Hollande is free to meet the crowds that have assembled in the capital to welcome him and sure enough he’s only too happy to dive in and do some classic presidential hand shaking while the French security service look on nervously.

7. Back to the new gaff

With that done, Hollande hopes back in his Citroen and heads back to his new home at the Élysée Palace. Later he will attend a ceremony at the Hotel de Ville in Paris with the mayor of the city, Bertrand Delanoe, and then onto Berlin to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel.


Read: Le nouveau président: Hollande to be sworn in today

Read: Love it when you call: Taoiseach speaks with Hollande on the phone

Read: Awkward ‘Must We Stand Beside Each Other?’ Pic of the Day

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Hugh O'Connell


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