Hollande acts like proud father to Macron at VE Day ceremony

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy warns president-elect ‘the hard part starts now’

Emmanuel Macron attended a ceremony commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany on Monday morning, in his first official appearance as France's president-elect.

Mr Macron won 20.7 million votes – or 66 per cent of votes cast – on Sunday, compared with 10.6 million, or 34 per cent, for the extreme right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen.

Mr Macron was invited to the VE Day ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe by his former mentor, the outgoing president, François Hollande.

As he waited in the stands for Mr Hollande, Mr Macron talked to the former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who congratulated him on his election and warned "The hard part starts now".


Together, Mr Hollande and Mr Macron laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. They will attend the commemoration of the abolition of slavery together on Wednesday morning.

Mr Macron’s investiture will take place at the Élysée Palace at 10am on Sunday, May 14th, after which he will walk Mr Hollande down the steps and to his car.

Mr Hollande told journalists he “will be ready to respond to all requests to be useful, but that time hasn’t come yet. For the moment, it’s up to Emmanuel Macron to take responsibility for the country.”

Mr Macron was silent, but gave the impression of being embarrassed

Acting like a proud father, Mr Hollande said he felt “a great deal of emotion” when instructing Mr Macron during the ceremony. In an airbrushed version of their former relationship as mentor and protege, Mr Hollande said Mr Macron “followed” him, then “emancipated himself” without betrayal and “was elected”.

Mr Macron was silent, but gave the impression of being embarrassed.


France’s new president will spend most of this week in consultations to finalise his choice of prime minister and the formation of a government, probably on May 15th.

He is likely to choose either a stalwart from his En Marche movement, for example its secretary general, the former socialist deputy Richard Ferrand; a moderate leader from the conservative Les Républicains party, such as Edouard Philippe or Xavier Bertrand; or an influential socialist such as the outgoing defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is a friend of President Michael D Higgins.

The names of Gérard Collomb, the mayor of Lyon and an early supporter of Mr Macron, and the centrist politician François Bayrou, are also mentioned as possible prime ministers.

Mr Ferrand held a press conference on Monday to announce that Mr Macron had stepped down as president of En Marche and that the movement was being renamed La République en Marche. The new party will release the names of its 577 candidates for the June 11th and 18th legislative elections on Thursday morning.

Two days before his election, Mr Macron said he expected to enjoy no “state of grace” as past presidents did.

The first street demonstration against Mr Macron was staged on Monday. The far left Front Social had called before Sunday’s vote for “the first social mobilisation of the five-year [presidential] term, regardless of whether the plague or cholera takes power.”

Lara Marlowe

Lara Marlowe

Lara Marlowe is an Irish Times contributor