What it said in the papers


The French press was unanimous in saluting François Hollande’s election victory yesterday.

The right-wing Le Figaro, which supported Nicolas Sarkozy’s re-election campaign, gave its front page over to a triumphant Mr Hollande waving to the crowd at Place de la Bastille on Sunday night. Below the photo, in an editorial headlined “Change”, the normally partisan editor, Étienne Mougeotte, wrote: “He is now the president of all the French people … We salute this election as the expression of the will of the majority. So, welcome, Mr President.”

“Finally,” declared the left-wing Libération, which had put its weight behind the socialist campaign. “Joy. Immense joy,” wrote editor Nicolas Demorand. “That of seeing a parenthesis close, a curse recede.”

Comparisons to the 1981 election win of François Mitterrand ran through all of the coverage. “Mitterrand is not to be an anomaly of history but the first left-wing president. There is now a second: François Hollande.”

Le Parisien drew a contrast between Mr Hollande and Mr Sarkozy, one having fulfilled “the French dream” as the other walked off the stage, comprehensively rejected.

Hollande may have been basking in applause yesterday, but many analysts predicted that his grace period would be short.

“Growth, competitiveness, a wall of debt, unemployment – the challenges facing the new president are many,” said the business daily Les Échos. Negotiation of a new growth pact would be his first test.

Le Monde’s coverage was similarly sober. “Thank you, people of France,” read its front page headline. After the hyperactive presidency now coming to an end, Mr Hollande’s would be one “without great illusions”.