PARIS, May 12. /TASS/. Francois Hollande, outgoing head of the French Fifth Republic, will leave the Elysee Palace a few hours before midnight on Sunday, May 14, when his presidential powers will expire. Earlier on the same day, he will hand the keys to the presidential residency over to his 39-year-old successor Emmanuel Macron.
There is no doubt that the 62-year-old politician will go down in the history of the Fifth Republic, founded by Charles de Gaulle more than half a century ago. Hollande is the first of its presidents who chose not to run for re-election.
The seventh president of the Fifth Republic was born on August 12, 1954, in the city of Rouen, to otolaryngologist Georges Hollande and nurse Nicole Tribert. Francois inherited the ability to debate and was the best student at school. As a young man, he played football in the Rouen football club and was a Led Zeppelin fan. However, encyclopedias and history books were his best friends.
Francois Hollande’s diligence helped him earn four diplomas at prestigious universities, including the National School of Administration which is believed to be the workshop for presidents, as Emmanuel Macron graduated from the School years later.
During his studies at the National School of Administration, Hollande was sent on an eight-month internship to the French embassy in Algeria where he worked under the guidance of Bernard Bajolet, the best French expert in the Arab World issues. When Hollande becomes president, he will appoint his former chief as head of the General Directorate for External Security, France’s external intelligence agency.
Being attracted to politics, Hollande fell to the charm of Francois Mitterrand, leader of the Socialist Party, who was able to fire up any audience. After graduating from the university, Hollande received an invitation to join an expert group headed by economist Jacques Attali, which was working for the socialists’ election campaign. After Mitterrand won the 1981 election, Hollande served as an adviser to the president.
Born in Rouen, Hollande fell in love with the department of Correze in south-western France. He was elected to represent Correze in the National Assembly, then he was the mayor of Tulle, the department’s capital and after that, became the president of the General Council of Correze.
In 1997, Hollande took the helm of the Socialist Party and fifteen years later won the presidential election receiving 51.64% of the vote.
The Socialist party was looking forward for a fresh start, but the plan to build a new European strategy based on the economic development did not have any political effect. As a result, the French people came to call Hollande’s presidency a period of immobility.
Unlike his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who was criticized for being hyperactive, Hollande is believed to be a symbol of equanimity.
The whole world saw the stark footage of two Air France managers trying to flee from enraged protesters. The national carrier’s plan to fire about 3,000 people triggered a wave of protests among pilots, flight attendants and ground services personnel. Pensioners, farmers and police officers were also dissatisfied with the government.
In 2016, the Paris Match magazine said that only 14% of the French citizens were ready to support Hollande in case he ran for re-election. Economic analyst Nicolas Baverez pointed to the poor state of the French economy as the main reason for Hollande’s low popularity.
According to the expert, Hollande believed that "the crisis will end, the attack on the capital will give a new impetus to the economy, the unemployment rate will go down due to the government’s steps aimed at creating new jobs, the severe tax policy towards companies and wealthy citizens will decrease debts while the southern Europe’s unity against austerity policies will boost economic development." However, not one of these expectations became a reality.
"France’s voice is not heard anymore, and this can’t be ascribed only to economic difficulties," said the authors of the book entitled Capital Sins. The Seven Dead Ends of the French Diplomacy, comprising a number of former ambassadors and three former foreign ministers. According to them, France "has lost its independence and the wisdom of actions which ensured the country’s special role."
"Having come to the conclusion that it will strengthen its position by adjusting it to the United States’ course, France has lost credibility," the book said.
Sarkozy, in turn, criticized Holland over his relations with Moscow. "I regret the policy that is currently pursued towards Russia," he said after news came about the Russian president cancelling his visit to Paris. Sarkozy warned Hollande against "joining a new Cold War." According to the former president, "France’s duty is to maintain dialogue with Russia."
On December 1, 2016, the French people gathered in front of their TVs as Hollande was about to make a statement. "I have decided not to run for re-election," he announced mentioning the successes and failures of his tenure.
By that time, the president’s rating had hit a record low of 7%. Having lost the confidence of the vast majority of the voters, he was running the risk of facing face a defeat even at the Socialist Party primaries so he chose not to take the chance.
After leaving the Elysee Palace, Hollande does not plan to give lectures to bankers and is unlikely to write a book on his presidency. His former First Lady Valerie Trierweiler, who broke up with him in 2014, has already come up with such a book entitled Thanks for the Moment.
According to Trierweiler, Hollande was constantly feeling "tired and under pressure" in the Elysee Palace, while his close circle was not ready to spare him. "Even our bathroom had become a place for meetings," Trierweiler complained adding that she had to kick out personnel who used to intrude in the presidential apartment.
Emmanuel Macron believes that the outgoing president "lacked determination" as far as economic and social reforms are concerned. On the contrary, the French president-elect promises his fellow citizens "the necessary renovation.".