PARIS >> Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated today as France’s new president at the Elysee palace in Paris, and immediately launched into his mission to shake up French politics, world economics and the European Union.
The 39-year-old Macron is the youngest president in the country’s history and the 8th president of France’s Fifth Republic, which was created in 1958. A former economy minister with pro-business, pro-European views, Macron is the first French president who doesn’t originate from one of the country’s two mainstream parties.
Macron takes charge of a nation that, when Britain leaves the European Union in 2019, will become the EU’s only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
He met for an hour with his predecessor, Francois Hollande, in the president’s office, taking a last few minutes to discuss the most sensitive issues facing France, including the country’s nuclear codes.
In a visibly moving moment for both, Macron accompanied Hollande to his car, shaking hands and applauding him along with the employees of the French presidency who gathered in the palace’s courtyard.
The two men had known each other well. Macron was Hollande’s former adviser, then his economy minister from 2014 to 2016, when Macron quit the Socialist government to launch his own independent presidential bid.
In his inauguration speech today, Macron said he will do everything that is necessary to fight terrorism and authoritarianism and to resolve the world’s migration crisis. He also listed “the excesses of capitalism in the world” and climate change among his future challenges.
“We will take all our responsibilities to provide, every time it’s needed, a relevant response to big contemporary crises,” He said.
Macron announced his determination to push ahead with reforms to free up France’s economy and pledged to press for a “more efficient, more democratic” EU. France is a founding member of the 28-nation bloc, which Britain plans to leave in 2019, and its third-largest economy after Germany and Britain.
About 300 guests, officials and family members gathered in the Elysee reception hall, including Macron’s wife, Brigitte, wearing a lavender blue dress by French designer Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton.
Macron himself wore a dark suit from French brand Jonas and Cie, a tailor based in Paris, that cost 450 euros ($491), according to his team.
The new first lady briefly posed for photographers with her husband at the front porch of the palace after Hollande left. The couple will now live at the Elysee palace.
Outside the Elysee, few dozen supporters waved French tricolor and European blue flags at the arrival of the new president.
Following the ceremony and military honors at the Elysee palace, Macron was to go to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, at the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Elysees Avenue, a tradition followed by all heads of states in France’s modern history.
Macron will also meet with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo later today.
His first visit abroad will be to Germany on Monday, to visit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
Macron will also have to name his prime minister and form a government in the next few days.
He has promised to reinvigorate French politics by bringing in new faces. His Republic on the Move movement has announced an initial list of 428 candidates for the 577 seats up for grabs in France’s lower house of parliament in June. Macron is seeking a majority of lawmakers so he can pass his programs.
Many of the Republic on the Move candidates are newcomers in politics. Their average age is 46, compared to 60 for the outgoing assembly. Half of them are women. Only 24 are lawmakers running for re-election, all Socialists.
Hollande described the “terrible ordeals” that marked his five-year term, from deadly attacks to Greece’s debt crisis, and defended his unpopular presidency in a series of tweets minutes after leaving the Elysee Palace.
Hollande noted his accomplishments in getting the Paris Agreement on climate change, legalizing gay marriage and doing “everything possible to ensure that Greece stays in Europe.”
“We lived through crises but we held together. France remained France,” he tweeted.