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INTRODUCTION: François Hollande was born in Rouen, France in 1954. He attended a series of elite French schools and joined the Socialist Party in 1979. First elected to the Ussel town council, he went on to win a National Assembly seat in 1988. He was made chair of the Socialist Party and announced a bid for the presidency in 2011, and beat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy to become France’s 24th president in 2012.
François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande was born on August 12, 1954, in Rouen, France to a right-wing physician father and a progressive social worker mother. The family moved to Paris when Hollande was 13, and after graduating from the public school system, he attended the Institut de Sciences Politiques and then the École des Hautes Études Commerciales, France’s top business school. He then entered the École Nationale d’Administration.
Hollande demonstrated an early interest in politics and volunteered for François Mitterrand’s second unsuccessful presidential campaign while he was still a student. Five years later, in 1979, he joined the Socialist Party. By then, Mitterrand had been elected on his third try and he appointed Hollande a junior economic advisor. Hollande held this post until he went to work for Max Gallo, the press secretary to former prime minister Pierre Mauroy.
In 1983, Hollande began serving on the Ussel town council and was elected to the National Assembly in 1988. Although he lost his seat in 1993, he reclaimed it in 1997. That same year, Lionel Jospin tapped Hollande to be the Socialist Party chairman. Hollande was then elected mayor of Tulle in 2001 and held the post until 2008.
In March 2011, Hollande announced that he would seek the Socialist Party nomination for president. He faced five other candidates in the primary, including Ségolène Royal and the frontrunner, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. When Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York on sexual assault charges, Hollande took the lead in polls. He won the party’s nomination on October 16, 2011. The following January, Hollande outlined a list of policies that he would seek to enact if elected, including increasing taxes on corporations, reducing the retirement age, establishing a public investment bank to promote French industry, and granting marriage and adoptions rights to same-sex couples.
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he would seek re-election in February 2012 and promptly began criticizing Hollande’s proposals, claiming they would be disastrous for the economy. Polls initially showed a close race, but Hollande pulled ahead comfortably in the second ballot. He won France’s presidential election on May 6, 2012 and was sworn in on May 15. He was the first candidate in 31 years to unseat an incumbent president after a single term.
While a student at Ecole Nationale d’Administration University, Hollande met and began dating Ségolène Royal. They lived as domestic partners but did not marry, having four children together. Royal had political aspirations of her own and, in 2007, ran for the presidency against Hollande’s wishes. A few weeks after her defeat, the couple announced their separation.
Mere days after they made the announcement, Royal published a book accusing Hollande of having an affair with Valerie Trierweiler, a political journalist with Paris Match. Hollande admitted to the affair, and he and Trierweiler have been together since.
In January 2014, photos published in Closer magazine allegedly showed Hollande being taken via a scooter to a Paris apartment that had recently been lent to French actress Julie Gayet. The photos spurred wide speculation about an alleged affair between the president and the actress. In addition to this scandal, reports claimed that the apartment where Hollande and Gayet had met was connected to the Corsican mafia.
– Francois Hollande Biography (Bio)