Outgoing French president says ending five-year term with positive note

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-14 23:38:52|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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PARIS, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Outgoing French President Francois Holland on Sunday defended his five-year ruling period, saying despite economic and security crises, he managed to improve the country's situation he had inherited five years ago.

Hollande told a gathering at the Socialist Party headquarters that he left France "in a much better shape" than he found.

"I have held the Republic presidency for five years in terrible ordeals ... (But), I have ensured that our country can stand firm in these circumstances, and it is my pride to have succeeded," he added.

In a traditional ceremony at the Elysee Palace, the ex-Socialist leader handed power to his former economy minister Emmanuel Macron who had defeated with wide margin far-right rival Marine Le Pen on the May 7 runoff.

"A new page will open, it must always be in the spirit of the construction and the success," Hollande said.

In May 2012, he was elected the first Socialist president in 17 years with nearly 52 percent of votes over conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy.

In a challenging context of limp growth, a gaping trade deficit, 10-percent unemployment and strained public finances, Hollande imposed more taxes on the rich, moved away from austerity-only policies and introduced measures to boost economic growth.

However, during his days in office, he suffered a setback due to broken promises to bring down unemployment rate and his launch of controversial labor reforms which triggered massive street protests.

Due to a record low of approval rating that had widened internal rifts in the ruling camp, Hollande decided on December 2016 he would not seek re-election, the first such move in France's fifth Republic.

Earlier this week, the former head of state announced he would not end his political carrier after leaving the Elysee Palace.

"How can I be useful to my country? This is the question that I will answer now, by reflecting, working, producing and intervening when it seems useful to me," he told local media.