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Hollande inaugurated, names Ayrault as prime minister, flies to Berlin

Newly inaugurated president François Hollande’s flight was struck by lightning en route to Berlin earlier today to meet with German chancellor Angela Merkel — hopefully, not an omen of things to come.

Omen or not, Hollande cannot expect to have any honeymoon after a subdued inauguration.

Hollande also named longtime ally Jean-Marc Ayrault as his prime minister. Ayrault, the president of the Parti socialiste parliamentary group in the Assemblée nationale since 1997, had been considered among the frontrunners for the position.

In his brief address, Hollande emphasized many of the same themes of his campaign: that budget discipline must not come at the expense of potential GDP growth:

“Power will be exercised at the summit of the state with dignity and simplicity,” Hollande declared in an inaugural address to Socialist leaders, trade unionists, military officers, churchmen and officials.

“Europe needs plans. It needs solidarity. It needs growth,” he said, renewing his vow to turn the page on austerity and invest for the future, and implicitly underlining his differences with Merkel.

“To our partners I will propose a new pact that links a necessary reduction in public debt with indispensable economic stimulus,” he said.

“And I will tell them of our continent’s need in such an unstable world to protect not only its values but its interests.”