PARIS — European and world leaders reached out yesterday to France’s president-elect Francois Hollande. Official final results of Sunday’s second round run-off showed that Hollande had won 51,62 percent of the vote to Sarkozy’s 48,38.
He became France’ first Socialist head of state in 17 years, ousting France’s right-wing leader Nicolas Sarkozy, and will take office formally on May 15 before embarking on a packed calendar of major international summits.
US President Barack Obama telephoned Hollande to congratulate him and invite him to the White House this month following the humiliating defeat of outgoing right-winger and close ally Sarkozy.
Obama “indicated that he looks forward to working closely with Mr Hollande and his government on a range of shared economic and security challenges,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also wasted no time in contacting Hollande once his victory was confirmed even though she had made no secret of her support for his right-wing predecessor and EU fiscal pact architect Sarkozy.
Merkel, Sarkozy’ closest European ally, invited Hollande to Berlin for talks, and her Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters: “We will work together on a growth pact. I am confident the Franco-German friendship will be further deepened.”
Hollande has called on the eurozone to broaden its focus from austerity to incorporate growth, a message he repeated in his victory speech, declaring: “Austerity can no longer be the only option.”
European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said he shared Hollande's goal for jumpstarting Europe’s economy.
“We clearly have a common objective: re-launching the European economy to generate durable growth,” he said. “We must now transform these aspirations into concrete actions.”
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, who had backed Sarkozy at the beginning of the election campaign, also vowed to work with Hollande to strengthen the Franco-British relationship, a spokesman said.
Spain’s conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose own spending cuts have sparked street protests in a country suffering recession and a 24-percent jobless rate, said it was his “bligation” to get along with Hollande.
“Mr Hollande has won and it is my obligation to get along with him and try to work together for the benefit of Spain, France and Europe,” Rajoy said yesterday.
Belgium’s Socialist Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, the only EU leader to come to France during the campaign to support Hollande, offered his congratulations and European budget discipline had to go hand-in-hand with an ambitious growth strategy.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said he hoped for close cooperation aimed "at an increasingly efficient and growth-oriented union” between the two neighbours.
In Asia, Chinese President Hu Jintao sent a message of congratulations and Beijing said it was ready to work with France to develop relations “from a strategic and long term perspective”.
“China believes that maintaining a positive momentum of the healthy and steady development of China-France relations not only serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and two peoples, but also world peace, stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
Russia’s newly-inaugurated President Vladimir Putin also congratulated Hollande, vowing to work with the Socialist leader to strengthen ties.
Russia “truly values the traditions of the Russian-French partnership”, Putin said in his congratulatory telegram. “I would like to confirm my readiness for active work to strengthen it further together with you.”
“Russian-French ties are successfully developing in the most constructive vein on the basis of friendship, mutual sympathy and respect of our peoples,” he added.
“Political dialogue, (and) mutually beneficial ties in the economic, scientific, technological, cultural and other spheres are expanding.”
“The citizens of France have entrusted you with heading the country in this difficult and rather important period when not only Europe but also the entire global community are facing the pressing tasks of overcoming the consequences of the financial and economic crisis and building new models of cooperation.”
Japan congratulated Hollande but said it will “carefully monitor” how Europe reacts to his election as the continent grapples with the debt crises.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed hope friendly ties would continue.
“I look forward to a meeting with him to continue this important relationship -- important bilaterally and internationally," he said.
Latin American nations, led by economic powerhouse Brazil, on Sunday congratulated Hollande.
“I want to transmit to him my most effusive greetings,” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement posted on the official presidential blog.
“France and Brazil are united by ambitious bilateral projects... I’m sure that we will continue this co-operation in the next years.”
Other left-leaning leaders including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also congratulated Hollande’s “clear victory” over Sarkozy. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s office said Hollande’s win was “not only a triumph of democracy but also a clear testimony to the maturity and age-long tradition of democracy in France”. — AFP.