France's Emmanuel Macron was sworn in for his second term as president on Saturday, promising to lead the country with a "new method" as his political rivals kicked off campaigning for next month's legislative elections.
In a country where presidents rarely get re-elected, Mr Macron won 58.5 per cent of the votes in the second round against the far-right's Marine Le Pen, despite strong opposition to his pro-business policies and a proposal to raise the retirement age.
In a short speech, he spoke of the need to innovate at a time of unprecedented challenges for the world and for France, and said his second term would be "new" and not merely a continuation of his first five years in office.
“We need to invent a new method together, far from tired traditions and routines, with which we can build a new productive, social and ecological contract,” he said, promising to act with “respect” and “consideration”.
He highlighted the threat posed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and global environmental concerns.
Among the 500 guests present were former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, former prime ministers Edouard Philippe, Manuel Valls, Alain Juppe and Jean-Pierre Raffarin, as well as religious leaders and other state figures.
Mr Hollande, who threw his support behind Mr Macron in the April 24th second-round vote, told reporters after the ceremony that Mr Macron could not afford to reproduce the “methods of yesterday”.
“What we noticed in this election was that there are more citizens [that voted] out of rejection, rather than out of hope,” Mr Hollande said.
A newly united political left – a coalition formed between Mr Hollande's Socialist Party, the hard-left La France Insoumise (LFI) party, the Greens and the Communist Party – is hoping to deprive Mr Macron of a majority in the June 12th-19th parliamentary vote.
The once-dominant parties of Mr Hollande and Mr Sarkozy – the Socialists on the left and Les Republicains on the right – have been severely weakened in recent years, in part due to the rise of Mr Macron’s political movement.
As campaigning for the June elections begins, Les Republicains was also due to hold a national council meeting on Saturday.
Mr Macron will visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg for "Europe Day" on Monday.
On the same day, for the first trip abroad since his inauguration, he will head to Berlin to meet German chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Mr Macron (44) is the first president who does not belong to a coalition government to be re-elected since the formation of the Fifth Republic in 1958.
Mr Macron's new term formally begins on the evening of May 13th and his prime minister, Jean Castex, remains in office for the time being. – Reuters