François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande (French: [fʁɑ̃swa ɔlɑ̃d] ( listen); born 12 August 1954) is a French politician who served as President of France and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra from 2012 to 2017. He was previously the First Secretary of the Socialist Party from 1997 to 2008, Mayor of Tulle from 2001 to 2008, and President of the Corrèze General Council from 2008 to 2012. Hollande also served in the National Assembly of France twice for the department of Corrèze's 1st constituency from 1988 to 1993, and again from 1997 to 2012.
Born in Rouen and raised in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hollande began his political career as a special advisor to newly elected President François Mitterrand, before serving as a staffer for Max Gallo, the government's spokesman. He became a member of the National Assembly in 1988 and was elected First Secretary of the Socialist Party in 1997. Following the 2004 regional elections won by the Socialists, Hollande was cited as a potential presidential candidate, but resigned as First Secretary and was immediately elected to replace Jean-Pierre Dupont as President of the General Council of Corrèze in 2008. In 2011, Hollande announced that he would be a candidate in the primary election to select the Socialist Party presidential nominee; he won the nomination, and on 6 May 2012, he was elected President during the second-round of voting with 51.6% of the vote against incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.
During his tenure, Hollande legalized same-sex marriage by passing Bill no. 344, reformed labour laws and credit training programs, withdrew French combat troops present in the Afghanistan military intervention, concluded a EU directive through a Franco-German contract, and led the country through the January and November 2015 Paris and 2016 Nice attacks. He was a leading proponent of EU mandatory migrant quotas and NATO's 2011 military intervention in Libya. He also sent troops to Mali and the Central African Republic with the approval of the UN Security Council in order to stabilise those countries, two operations largely seen as successful. However his support of the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen drew controversy among his left-wing electoral basis. Under his term, France also became the most toured country in the world, and known as a nation of open markets, regulatory efficiency, rule of law and limited governmental intervention. Paris hosted the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference and Hollande's efforts to attract the 2024 Summer Olympics to the city were successful.
Notwithstanding, with unemployment up to 10% as of December 2016 and domestic troubles over his tenure due to terrorism, he faced spikes and downturns in approval rates, ultimately making him one of the most unpopular French Presidents in history. On 1 December 2016, he announced he would not seek reelection in the 2017 French presidential election, and later endorsed Emmanuel Macron, who would go on to win the election.
François Hollande was born on 12 August 1954 in Rouen. His mother, Nicole Frédérique Marguerite Tribert (1927–2009), was a social worker, and his father, Georges Gustave Hollande (born 1923), is a retired ear, nose, and throat doctor who "ran for local election on a far right ticket in 1959." The name "Hollande" meant "one originally from Holland" – it is mostly found in Hollande's ancestral homeland, Hauts-de-France, and it is speculated to be Dutch in origin. The earliest known member of the Hollande family lived circa 1569 near Plouvain, working as a miller.
When Hollande was thirteen, the family moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine, a highly exclusive suburb of Paris. He attended Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-la-Salle boarding school, a private Catholic school in Rouen, the Lycée Pasteur, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, receiving his baccalaureut in 1972 then graduated with a bachelor's degree in Law from Panthéon-Assas University. Hollande studied at HEC Paris, graduated in 1975, and then attended the Institut d'études politiques de Paris and the École nationale d'administration (ENA). He did his military service in the French Army in 1977. He graduated from the ENA in 1980 and chose to enter the prestigious Cour des comptes.
Five years after volunteering as a student to work for François Mitterrand's ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the 1974 presidential election, Hollande joined the Socialist Party. He was quickly spotted by Jacques Attali, a senior adviser to Mitterrand, who arranged for Hollande to run in legislative election of 1981 in Corrèze against future President Jacques Chirac, who was then the leader of the Rally for the Republic, a Neo-Gaullist party. Hollande lost to Chirac in the first round.
He went on to become a special advisor to newly elected President Mitterrand, before serving as a staffer for Max Gallo, the government's spokesman. After becoming a municipal councillor for Ussel in 1983, he contested Corrèze for a second time in 1988, this time being elected to the National Assembly. Hollande lost his bid for re-election to the Assembly in the so-called "blue wave" of the 1993 election, described as such due to the number of seats gained by the Right at the expense of the Socialist Party.
As the end of Mitterrand's term in office approached, the Socialist Party was torn by a struggle of internal factions, each seeking to influence the direction of the party. Hollande pleaded for reconciliation and for the party to unite behind Jacques Delors, the President of the European Commission, but Delors renounced his ambitions to run for the French presidency in 1995. Former party leader Lionel Jospin resumed his position, and selected Hollande to become the official party spokesman. Hollande went on to contest Corrèze once again in 1997, successfully returning to the National Assembly.
That same year, Jospin became the Prime Minister of France, and Hollande won the election for his successor as First Secretary of the party, a position he would hold for eleven years. Because of the very strong position of the Socialist Party within the French government during this period, Hollande's position led some to refer to him the "Vice Prime Minister". Hollande would go on to be elected mayor of Tulle in 2001, an office he would hold for the next seven years.
The immediate resignation of Jospin from politics following his shock defeat by far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of the 2002 presidential election forced Hollande to become the public face of the party for the 2002 legislative election. Although he managed to limit defeats and was re-elected in his own constituency, the Socialists lost nationally. In order to prepare for the 2003 party congress in Dijon, he obtained the support of many notable personalities of the party and was re-elected first secretary against opposition from left-wing factions.
After the triumph of the Left in the 2004 regional elections, Hollande was cited as a potential presidential candidate, but the Socialists were divided on the European Constitution, and Hollande's support for the ill-fated "Yes" position in the French referendum on the European constitution caused friction within the party. Although Hollande was re-elected as first secretary at the Le Mans Congress in 2005, his authority over the party began to decline. Eventually his domestic partner, Ségolène Royal, was chosen to represent the party in the 2007 presidential election, where she would lose to Nicolas Sarkozy.
Hollande was widely blamed for the poor performances of the Socialist Party in the 2007 elections, and he announced that he would not seek another term as First Secretary. Hollande publicly declared his support for Bertrand Delanoë, the mayor of Paris, but it was Martine Aubry who would go on to win the race to succeed him in 2008. Hollande was next elected to replace Jean-Pierre Dupont as the president of the General Council of Corrèze in April 2008, and won re-election in 2011.
Hollande announced in early 2011 that he would be a candidate in the upcoming primary election to select the Socialist and Radical Left Party presidential nominee. The primary marked the first time that both parties had held an open primary to select a joint nominee at the same time. He initially trailed the front-runner, former finance minister and International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Following Strauss-Kahn's arrest on suspicion of sexual assault in New York City in May 2011, Hollande began to lead the opinion polls, and his position as front-runner was established just as Strauss-Kahn declared that he would no longer seek the nomination. After a series of televised debates with other candidates throughout September, Hollande topped the ballot in the first round held on 9 October with 39% of the vote. He did not, however, gain the 50% required to avoid a run-off election, and was obliged to enter a second ballot against Martine Aubry, who had come in second with 30% of the vote.
The second ballot took place on 16 October 2011. Hollande won with 56% of the vote to Aubry's 43% and thus became the official Socialist and Radical Left Party candidate for the 2012 presidential election. All his main opponents in the primary – Aubry, Ségolène Royal, Arnaud Montebourg, and Manuel Valls – pledged their support to him for the general election.
Hollande's presidential campaign was managed by Pierre Moscovici and Stéphane Le Foll, a member of Parliament and Member of the European Parliament respectively. Hollande launched his campaign officially with a rally and major speech at Le Bourget on 22 January 2012 in front of 25,000 people. The main themes of his speech were equality and the regulation of finance, both of which he promised to make a key part of his campaign.
On 26 January, he outlined a full list of policies in a manifesto containing 60 propositions, including the separation of retail activities from riskier investment-banking businesses; raising taxes on big corporations, banks and the wealthy; creating 60,000 teaching jobs; bringing the official retirement age back down to 60 from 62; creating subsidised jobs in areas of high unemployment for the young; promoting more industry in France by creating a public investment bank; granting marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples; and pulling French troops out of Afghanistan in 2012. On 9 February, he detailed his policies specifically relating to education in a major speech in Orléans.
Incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy announced on 15 February that he would run for a second and final term, strongly criticising the Socialist proposals and claiming that Hollande would bring about "economic disaster within two days of taking office". Opinion polls showed a tight race between the two men in the first round of voting, with most polls showing Hollande comfortably ahead of Sarkozy in a hypothetical second round. The first round of the presidential election was held on 22 April. François Hollande came in first place with 28.63% of the vote, and faced Nicolas Sarkozy in a run-off. In the second round of voting on 6 May 2012, Hollande was elected with 51.6% of the vote.
Hollande was inaugurated on 15 May 2012, and shortly afterwards appointed Jean-Marc Ayrault to be his Prime Minister. He was the first Socialist Party president since François Mitterrand left office in 1995. The President of the French Republic is one of the two joint heads of state of the Principality of Andorra. Hollande hosted a visit from Antoni Martí, head of the government, and Vicenç Mateu Zamora, leader of the parliament.
He also appointed Benoît Puga to be the military's chief of staff, Pierre-René Lemas as his general secretary and Pierre Besnard as his Head of Cabinet. Hollande's full Council of Ministers became the first ever in France to show gender parity, with 17 men and 17 women, and each member was required to sign a new "code of ethics" that placed significant restrictions on their conduct and compensation, above that of existing law. The first measure enacted by the new government was to lower the salaries of the President, the Prime Minister, and other members of the government by 30%.
Hollande's economic policies are wide-ranging, including supporting the creation of a European credit rating agency, the separation of lending and investment in banks, reducing the share of electricity generated by nuclear power in France from 75 to 50% in favour of renewable energy sources, merging income tax and the General Social Contribution (CSG), creating an additional 45% for additional income of 150,000 euros, capping tax loopholes at a maximum of €10,000 per year, and questioning the relief solidarity tax on wealth (ISF, Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune) measure that should bring €29 billion in additional revenue. Hollande also signalled his intent to implement a 75% income tax rate on revenue earned above 1,000,000 euros per year, to generate the provision of development funds for deprived suburbs, and to return to a deficit of zero percent of GDP by 2017. The tax plan proved controversial, with courts ruling it unconstitutional in 2012, only to then take the opposite position on a redrafted version in 2013.
Hollande has also announced several reforms to education, pledging to recruit 60,000 new teachers, to create a study allowance and means-tested training, and to set up a mutually beneficial contract that would allow a generation of experienced employees and craftsmen to be the guardians and teachers of younger newly hired employees, thereby creating a total of 150,000 subsidized jobs. This has been complemented by the promise of aid to SMEs, with the creation of a public bank investment-oriented SME's, and a reduction of the corporate tax rate to 30% for medium corporations and 15% for small.
Hollande's government has announced plans to construct 500,000 public homes per year, including 150,000 social houses, funded by a doubling of the ceiling of the A passbook, the region making available its local government land within five years. In accordance with long-standing Socialist Party policy, Hollande has announced that the retirement age will revert to 60, for those who have contributed for more than 41 years.
Hollande has also announced his personal support for same-sex marriage and adoption for LGBT couples, and outlined plans to pursue the issue in early 2013. In July 2012, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced that "In the first half of 2013, the right to marriage and adoption will be open to all couples, without discrimination", confirming this election promise by Hollande.
The bill to legalize same-sex marriage, known as Bill no. 344, was introduced to the National Assembly of France on 7 November 2012. On 12 February 2013, the National Assembly approved the bill in a 329–229 vote. The Right-wing opposed the bill. The Senate approved the full bill with a 171–165 majority on 12 April with minor amendments. On 23 April, the National Assembly approved the amended bill, in a 331–225 vote, and following approval of the law by the Constitutional Council of France, it was signed into law by President Hollande on 18 May 2013, with the first same-sex weddings under the law taking place eleven days later.
As President, Hollande pursued labour reform to make France more competitive internationally. Legislation was introduced in late 2012 and after much debate passed the French lower and upper house in May 2013. The bill includes measures such as making it easier for workers to change jobs and for companies to fire employees. One of the main measures of the bill allows companies to temporarily cut workers' salaries or hours during times of economic difficulty. This measure takes its inspiration from Germany, where furloughs have been credited with allowing companies to weather difficult times without resorting to massive layoffs. Layoffs in France are often challenged in courts and the cases can take years to resolve. Many companies cite the threat of lengthy court action – even more than any financial cost – as the most difficult part of doing business in France. The law shortens the time that employees have to contest a layoff and also lays out a scheme for severance pay. The government hopes this will help employees and companies reach agreement faster in contentious layoffs.
Another key measure introduced are credits for training that follow employees throughout their career, regardless of where they work, and the right to take a leave of absence to work at another company. The law will also require all companies to offer and partially pay for supplemental health insurance. Lastly, the law also reforms unemployment insurance, so that someone out of work doesn't risk foregoing significant benefits when taking a job that might pay less than previous work or end up only being temporary. Under the new law, workers will be able to essentially put benefits on hold when they take temporary work, instead of seeing their benefits recalculated each time.
As President, Hollande pursued reform to the vast and expensive pension system in France. The process proved to be very contentious, with members of Parliament, Labor Unions, and general public all opposed. Mass protests and demonstrations occurred throughout Paris. Despite the opposition, the French Parliament did pass a reform in December 2013 aimed at plugging a pension deficit expected to reach 20.7 billion euros ($28.4 billion) by 2020 if nothing were to be done. Rather than raising the mandatory retirement age, as many economists had advised, Hollande pursued increases in contributions, leaving the retirement age untouched. The reform had a rough ride in parliament, being rejected twice by the Senate, where Hollande's Socialist Party has a slim majority, before it won sufficient backing in a final vote before the lower house of parliament. French private sector workers will see the size and duration of their pension contributions increase only modestly under the reform while their retirement benefits are largely untouched.
As President, Hollande promised an early withdrawal of French combat troops present in Afghanistan in 2012. He also pledged to conclude a new contract of Franco-German partnership, advocating the adoption of a Directive on the protection of public services. Hollande has proposed "an acceleration of the establishment of a Franco-German civic service, the creation of a Franco-German research office, the creation of a Franco-German industrial fund to finance common competitiveness clusters, and the establishment of a common military headquarters". As well as this, Hollande has expressed a wish to "combine the positions of the presidents of the European Commission and of the European Council (currently held by José Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy respectively) into a single office [...] and that it should be directly chosen" by the members of the European Parliament.
On 11 January 2013, Hollande authorised the execution of Operation Serval, which aimed to curtail the activities of Islamist extremists in the north of Mali. The intervention was popularly supported in Mali, as Hollande promised that his government would do all it could to "rebuild Mali". During his one-day visit to Bamako, Mali's capital, on 2 February 2013, he said that it was "the most important day in [his] political life". In 2014, Hollande took some of these troops out of Mali and spread them over the rest of the Sahel under Operation Barkhane, in an effort to curb jihadist militants.
Hollande made a state visit to the United States in February 2014; a state dinner was given in his honor by U.S. President Barack Obama. On 27 February 2014, Hollande was a special guest of honor in Abuja, received by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in celebration of Nigeria's amalgamation in 1914, a 100-year anniversary. In July 2014, Hollande expressed support for Israel's right to defend itself during the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, and told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "France strongly condemns these aggressions [by Hamas]."
In September 2015, Hollande warned former Eastern Bloc countries against rejecting the EU mandatory migrant quotas, saying: "Those who don't share our values, those who don't even want to respect those principles, need to start asking themselves questions about their place in the European Union".
An IFOP poll released in April 2014 showed that Hollande’s approval rating had dropped five points since the previous month of March to 18%, dipping below his earlier low of 20% in February during the same year. In November 2014, his approval rating reached a new low of 12%, according to a YouGov poll. Following the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015, however, approval for Hollande increased dramatically, reaching 40% according to an IFOP poll two weeks after the attack, though an Ipsos-Le Point survey in early February showed his rating declining back to 30%.
Hollande is the most unpopular president of the French Fifth Republic. In September 2014, his approval rating was down to 13% according to an IFOP/JDD survey, making him the first French leader in modern times to ever break the 20% threshold. One year before the end of his mandate, in April 2016, his approval rating was at 14%, and surveys predicted that if he were to run for a second term, he would be defeated in the first round of the 2017 presidential elections. By November 2016, Hollande's approval rating was just 4%.
For over thirty years, his partner was fellow Socialist politician Ségolène Royal, with whom he has four children: Thomas (1984), Clémence (1985), Julien (1987) and Flora (1992). In June 2007, just a month after Royal's defeat in the French presidential election of 2007, the couple announced that they were separating.
A few months after his split from Ségolène Royal was announced, a French website published details of a relationship between Hollande and French journalist Valérie Trierweiler. In November 2007, Trierweiler confirmed and openly discussed her relationship with Hollande in an interview with the French weekly Télé 7 Jours. She remained a reporter for the magazine Paris Match, but ceased work on political stories. Trierweiler moved into the Élysée Palace with Hollande when he became president and started to accompany him on official travel.
On 25 January 2014, Hollande officially announced his separation from Valérie Trierweiler after the tabloid magazine Closer revealed his affair with actress Julie Gayet. In September 2014, Trierweiler published a book about her time with Hollande titled Merci pour ce moment (Thank You for This Moment). The memoir claimed the president presented himself as disliking the rich, but in reality disliked the poor. The claim brought an angry reaction and rejection from Hollande, who said he had spent his life dedicated to the under-privileged.
|Ribbon bar||Honour||Date & Comment|
|Grand Cross of the National Order of the Legion of Honour||15 May 2012 – automatic upon taking presidential office|
|Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit||15 May 2012 – automatic upon taking presidential office|
|Poland||Knight of the Order of the White Eagle||16 November 2012|
|Italy||Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic||21 November 2012|
|Morocco||Grand Collar of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite||3 April 2013|
|Saudi Arabia||Chain of the Order of Abdulaziz Al Saud||30 December 2013|
|Holy See||Holy See||Proto-canon of the Papal Basilica of St. John Lateran (2012–2017; the post is held ex officio by the French Head of State)||15 May 2012 - 14 May 2017|
|Tunisia||Grand Cordon of the Order of the Republic of Tunisia||4 July 2013|
|Mali||Grand Cordon of the National Order of Mali of Mali||15 July 2013|
|Slovakia||Order of the White Double Cross, 1st Class||29 October 2013|
|Austria||Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria||5 November 2013|
|Monaco||Grand Cross of the Order of Saint-Charles||14 November 2013|
|Netherlands||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion||20 January 2014|
|United Kingdom||Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath||5 June 2014|
|Canada||Grand officier of the National Order of Quebec||3 November 2014|
|Sweden||Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim||2 December 2014|
|Spain||Knight Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic||23 March 2015|
|Greece||Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer||22 October 2015|
|Kazakhstan||Order of Friendship, 1st class||6 November 2015|
|Argentina||Grand Cross of the Order of the Liberator General San Martín||25 February 2016|
|Central African Republic||Grand Cross of the Order of Central African Merit||13 May 2016|
|Portugal||Grand Collar of the Order of Liberty||19 June 2016|
|Romania||Grand Collar of the Order of the Star of Romania||13 September 2016|
Hollande has had a number of books and academic works published, including:
[Socialist party leader Martine] Aubry has presidential ambitions... Her rivals included the former leader of the party, François Hollande....
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: François Hollande|
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|Mayor of Tulle
|President of the Corrèze General Council
|President of France
|Party political offices|
|First Secretary of the Socialist Party
|Catholic Church titles|
|Honorary Canon of the Papal Basilicas of St. John Lateran and St. Peter
|Co-Prince of Andorra
Served alongside: Joan Enric Vives Sicília