REUTERS.COM: French President Francois Hollande gave his predecessor a terse send-off on Tuesday, omitting to wave Nicolas Sarkozy off from the steps of the Elysee palace and giving him only a cursory mention in his inaugural speech.
After a bruising election battle, Sarkozy was gracious in defeat, dropping all invective when he conceded within minutes of the May 6 result and inviting Hollande to accompany him at a ceremony two days later to commemorate the end of World War Two.
Yet the Socialist newcomer kept it to the bare minimum when he saw the outgoing conservative off with a brisk handshake after a 40-minute private meeting to pass on state secrets.
In a remark that seemed squarely aimed at Sarkozy's pushy and hyperactive style, Hollande said in his maiden address that he would run a "dignified" and "sober" presidency.
In past handovers, the incoming president has lingered over the handshake with his predecessor and taken a few moments to see him off from the Elysee Palace courtyard.
Back in 2007, the more tactile Sarkozy gave his predecessor Jacques Chirac a friendly departing pat and applauded as he left the premises. When Chirac won in 1995, he gave Socialist Francois Mitterrand a warm send-off that expressed admiration for a skillful veteran adversary.
In his speech, Hollande, the first Socialist leader in 17 years, listed the achievements of all other Fifth Republic presidents from General Charles de Gaulle to Chirac. But his only mention of the Sarkozy was to wish him luck in the future.
A television commentator called the perfunctory comment "the union minimum". » | Reporting By Catherine Bremer; Editing by Paul Taylor | Reuters | PARIS | Tuesday, May 15, 2012