World leaders reach out to Hollande
European and world leaders reached out on Sunday to France's
Socialist President-elect Francois Hollande, whose election win was
built in part on a pledge to renegotiate Europe's austerity pact. The
reaction from several European leaders suggested Hollande's argument
that austerity measures must be leavened by measures to encourage growth
appeared to be winning support.
President Francois Hollande
European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said he shared
Hollande's goal for jumpstarting Europe's economy, while US President
Barack Obama telephoned the victor to congratulate him and invite him to
the White House this month. "We clearly have a common objective:
relaunching the European economy to generate durable growth," said
"We must now transform these aspirations into concrete actions."
Belgium's Socialist Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, the only EU leader to
come to France during the campaign to support Hollande, backed his
European budget discipline had to go hand-in-hand with an ambitious
growth strategy, he said, as he offered his congratulations.
Hollande has called on the eurozone to broaden its focus from
austerity to incorporate growth, a message that he repeated in his
victory speech, when he declared: "Austerity can no longer be the only
option." During the campaign, Hollande won few friends in Germany by
criticising Chancellor Angela Merkel's insistence on austerity as the
way out of the crisis. The German leader had backed Nicolas Sarkozy's
On Sunday, however, Germany pledged to work with the French
president-elect after he dealt a humiliating defeat to Sarkozy, Merkel's
closest European ally.
She phoned Hollande to congratulate him and invite him for early
talks in Berlin.
Britain's Conservative 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, said a
Cameron's domestic austerity drive, however, is at odds with the
incoming French president's belief in government-driven growth.
Spain's conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose spending
cuts have sparked street protests in a country mired in recession and
suffering from a 24 percent jobless rate, also offered his
congratulations. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, congratulating
Hollande on his win, said he hoped for close cooperation aimed "at an
increasingly efficient and growth-oriented union."