France's Socialist Party's candidate Francois Hollande addresses supporters after he defeated incumbent French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's decisive presidential runoff, in Tulle, southern France, May 6, 2012. Francois Hollande said he feels proud of bringing hope to France and that change will start from now in an address to his supporters on Sunday night after the presidential election. [Xinhua/Gao Jing]
French Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande defeated incumbent French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's decisive presidential runoff as most previous opinion polls had predicted.
Hollande will be the second left-wing president of the French Fifth Republic, which saw Francois Mitterrand, founder of the French Socialist Party (PS), served two seven-year terms as president from 1981.
The president-elect, born on August 12, 1954 in northern France, has a shining education background with diplomas of Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Paris (HEC), Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) and Ecole nationale d'administration (ENA), all elite universities in France.
He served as the first secretary of the PS from 1997 to 2008, and was mayor of Tulle in central France from 2001 to 2008, as well as a member of parliament for the southwestern department of Correze.
However, Hollande has never held a government post at national level, which bothered some French voters and cast doubts over his ability to lead the country out of economic crisis.
Bespectacled and with a scholarly air, Hollande has successfully portrayed himself as a "normal president" as opposed to hyperactive Sarkozy, taking advantage of public's disappointment with the incumbent president.
In his campaign for president, Hollande pledged to fight record high unemployment, including hiring 60,000 more teachers in his term in addition to 150,000 state-aided jobs.
Hollande opposed a financial policy solely based on austerity, and planned to open negotiations on the European fiscal pact reached last December by adding new clauses focusing on economic growth and job creation.
He pledged to reach zero budget gap in 2017 and urged the establishment of a European rating agency.
The Socialist also proposed a 75-percent tax rate on those who earn over 1 million euros (1.3 million U.S. dollars) a year, and an increase on the minimum wage.
On foreign policy, Hollande said he would pull out French combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, and would only intervene in foreign countries under the United Nation's mandate in the future.
Though criticized by his opponents as moderate and indecisive, Hollande had the honor of being praised by former conservative President Jacques Chirac as a "true statesman."
After beating Sarkozy in the first round of the 2012 French presidential election with more than 28.6 percent of the vote, he took people by surprise in the only TV debate against the incumbent for being unusually argumentative and aggressive, revealing more strength and potential than just being "quiet" and "unflappable."
Though far-right leader Marine Le Pen said she would endorse neither candidate, Hollande received endorsement from centrist party leader Francois Bayrou, who came fifth in the first round polling.
Hollande has four children with Segolene Royal, who failed to challenge Sarkozy in 2007 election. His life companion now is Valerie Trierweiler, 47, a French journalist.