Emmanuel Macron, 39, has been inaugurated as France’s president and pledged to overcome division in societies.
Macron, a centrist, took over on Sunday from President Francois Hollande, the socialist whose five years in power were plagued by stubborn unemployment and attacks.
Macron – France’s youngest ever president – beat his far-right rival Marine Le Pen to the presidency, winning more than 65 per cent of the May 7 vote.
“The whole world has watched our presidential election,” Macron said in his inaugural speech as president, which took place at the Elysee Presidential Palace.
He added that “the world and Europe have today, more than ever, a need for France. They want a France that is sure of its destiny.
“The world needs what French men and woman have always taught it — freedom, equality and fraternity.”
He said France was not in decline, but at the start of an “extraordinary renaissance”, adding that he would boost employment, protect companies and engage with French people who feel ignored.
“Republican secularism will be defended. We must find the deep meaning of what unites us today … France is only strong if it is prosperous.”
Francois Hollande is delighted at the election of the former investment banker. Hollande launched Macron’s political career, and brought him from the world of investment banking to be an advisor and then his economic minister.
“I am not handing over power to a political opponent, it’s far simpler,” Hollande said. Meanwhile, Macron is expected to reveal the closely-guarded name of his prime minister on Monday before flying to Berlin to meet German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
It is virtually a rite of passage for French leaders to make their first European trip to meet the leader of the other half of the so-called “motor” of the EU. Pro-EU Macron wants to push for closer cooperation to help the bloc overcome the imminent departure of Britain, another of its most powerful members.
Here are quotes from Macron’s inauguration speech:
– On France –
“The time has come for France to meet the challenges of our time. The divisions and fractures that run through our society must be overcome, whether they be economic, social, political or moral.”
The first of two priorities is “to give back to the French people the confidence that has been flagging for too long.”
“I can assure you I didn’t think for a single second that (the confidence) was restored as if by magic on the evening of May 7 (the night of his election victory). It will be slow, demanding but essential work.”
“I will convince our compatriots that France’s power is not in decline, but that we are at the dawn of an extraordinary renaissance because we have all the qualities which will make, and do make, the great powers of the 21st century.”
– On Europe and the world –
“The world and Europe need France now more than ever and they need a strong France with a sense of its own destiny.”
“We need Europe and it will be reformed and relaunched because it protects us and allows us to project our values in the world.”
“The world needs what French men and women have always taught it: the audacity of freedom, the demand for equality and the desire for fraternity.”
– On his predecessors –
General Charles de Gaulle “restored France’s place among the nations of the world”. Valery Giscard d’Estaing “helped France and French society enter the modern world”.
Francois Mitterrand “managed to reconcile the French dream and the European dream”. Jacques Chirac “showed we are a country able to say no to those rushing to war”.
Nicolas Sarkozy “spared none of his energy to resolve the financial crisis which hit the world so violently”.
François Hollande helped bring about the Paris climate warming agreement “and protected the French people in a world hit by terrorism”.