— 2mins read
Emmanuel Macron has promised to restore France’s global standing, as he was officially inaugurated as the country’s youngest president at the age of 39.
“My mandate will give the French back the confidence to believe in themselves,” President Macron said at the elaborate Élysée Palace ceremony.
Macron takes over from François Hollande, whose five-year term was plagued by high unemployment figures, and he has vowed to see the Eurpean Union “reformed and relaunched” during his time in office.
The new president won last Sunday’s presidential election with a resounding victory over the National Front’s Marine le Pen, with 66% of the vote in the run-off poll.
The former investment banker, who had never contested an election before and only formed his centrist political movement a year ago, has vowed to shake up the country’s political order and reinvigorate its economy.
Tight security was in place across Paris for the ceremony at the president’s official residence, with hundreds of extra police on patrol.
France has been under a state of emergency since terror attacks in 2015 and a large section of the city centre was closed to traffic all morning.
During his inaugural address on Sunday, President Macron pledged to restore the confidence of the French people in their country’s future.
“The division and fractures in our society must be overcome,” said the 39-year-old centrist.
“The world and Europe need more than ever France, and a strong France, which speaks out loudly for freedom and solidarity,” he declared.
He said he would convince the people that “the power of France is not declining – that we are on the brink of a great renaissance”.
He was presented with a necklace once worn by Napoleon I, as a symbol of his position as Grand Master of the Legion of Honour – a title usually given to the leader of France.
Before the ceremony began, he spent nearly an hour with his predecessor, who handed him the country’s nuclear codes.
It was Hollande who launched the new president’s political career, appointing him first as advisor and later economy minister.
Despite historic low approval ratings, the former president tweeted after leaving the palace: “I leave a country in a much better state than I found it.”
At 39, Macron becomes France’s youngest leader since Napoleon and the first to be born after 1958, when France’s fifth republic was put in place by President Charles de Gaulle.
His En Marche political movement was formed just last year and as a new party – La République En Marche – will be fielding candidates for almost all of France’s 577 seats in June’s parliamentary elections.
He has promised to “work for everyone” and sees his programme as straddling both left and right.
Macron’s first week in office will be busy as he heads for Berlin on Monday to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and to demonstrate his commitment to the European Union.
He is also expected to name a prime minister on Monday morning.
Macron faces major challenges including high unemployment, especially among France’s young, and low economic growth.
He says his main aims are to boost investment and to set up a “new growth model” that increases social mobility and helps the environment.
Later on Sunday, Macron visited the Arc de Triomphe and laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.