Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated as France’s youngest ever president on Sunday, saying the country had chosen “hope” and promising to relaunch the flagging European Union.
Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, took the reins of power from Francois Hollande a week after he won a resounding victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a tumultuous election.
After a warm welcome from Hollande at the Elysee Palace, the two men held a closed-doors meeting during which Macron was handed the codes to launch France’s nuclear arsenal.
In a moment heavy with symbolism, 64-year-old Hollande — who launched Macron’s political career by appointing him first as advisor and then economy minister — was then driven away from the palace to applause from his staff and the new president.
The former investment banker who had never even contested an election before was then proclaimed president by Laurent Fabius, president of the Constitutional Council.
“In order to be the man of one’s country, one must be the man of your time,” Fabius told him.
“You are now the man of your time… and by the sovereign choice of the people, you are now, above all … the man of our country.”
In his first speech, Macron said the French people had chosen “hope” and shown a willingness to change in the election.
He promised that the EU, hit by the imminent departure of Britain, would be “rejuvenated and relaunched” during his time in office.
“The world and Europe need France now more than ever and they need a strong France with a sense of its own destiny.”
To underline his European ambitions, Macron will visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday in his first foreign trip.