Fact File: Francois Hollande


It was an accident of fate – or perhaps libido – which brought Francois Hollande to the forefront of European politics.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was the clear favourite in the French Socialist Party’s presidential primary until he was derailed by a lurid sex scandal in 2011. By comparison to both DSK and the former French leader Nicolas “President Bling Bling” Sarkozy, Hollande is a less immediately intriguing character. Having nicknamed himself ‘Mr Normal’, he apparently likes it that way.

During Hollande’s three decades in politics, he became a powerful provincial politician with national influence, but often took a backseat to his partner of 30 years, the former presidential candidate Segolene Royal. In 2006, after four children, their relationship ended and Hollande began seeing the journalist Valerie Trierweiler.

In May 2012, Hollande defeated Nicolas Sarkozy to become the first socialist leader of France for nearly 20 years. His election promised to change not only the pro-austerity direction of Europe’s prevailing winds, but also the French national identity. Goodbye President Bling Bling and hello Mr Normal. 

The Numbers

75% - Tax rate proposed by Hollande for France’s highest earners. Source: BBC News

2” – Height difference between Hollande (5’7”) and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy (reportedly 5’5”). Source: Reuters

€1.2m – Personal wealth declared by Hollande upon taking power in France. Source: The Irish Independent

51.7% - Votes polled by Hollande in the second-round run-off of the presidential elections. Source: BBC News

Further Reading

The NS Profile: Francois Hollande, Dennis MacShane, New Statesman, 2012

The battle between Hollande and Sarkozy is trading on France’s deepest fears, not hopes, Andreas Whittam Smith, The Independent, 2012

Francois Hollande: Gallic charm offensive, John Lichfield, The Independent, 2012

Francois Holland’s secret weapon: cracking jokes, John Laurenson, BBC News, 2012


1954 – Francois Gerard George Hollande is born in Rouen in upper Normandy

1980 – Hollande graduates from elite training college, the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, where he met his partner of thirty years Segolene Royal

1997 –  Hollande is elected First Secretary (or leader) of the Socialist Party

2001 – 2008 –  Hollande serves as Mayor of Tulle

June 2011 –  Former French President Jacques Chirac announces his support for Hollande

May 2012 –  Hollande is elected 24th President of France