François Hollande was born in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France and grew up there and on the outskirts of Paris.
Hollande was raised a Catholic like most good French boys and even attended a Catholic boarding school.
But despite being a favorite among France’s Muslims, Hollande is an outspoken agnostic. He said (now I speak a bit of French, but I’m no translator, so this is rough):
I have long been an agnostic, now my doubts have turned into certainties. But transcendence is also evidence that man is nothing by himself, he needs a cause that outweighs the individual.
That last part likely refers to the state, nationalism, and French fraternité, or brotherhood. Yes, Hollande is a raving socialist–but more on that later.
Hollande added later in a sarcastic quip about prayer, saying:
In the evening, you can talk to yourself, it’s your time. But I never had trouble sleeping.
Not surprisingly, Hollande is not popular with France’s devout Catholic voters, who resent his liberal social views, but again, more on that later. They probably don’t like a godless sinner in power either.
Hollande won a highly-contested presidential election in 2012, beating out Nikolas Sarkozy. Hollande is a member of the Socialist Party and, ideologically, tows the party line well.
Much of the reason he won the presidency is the result of poor public sentiment toward the European financial sector–who are largely blamed for the Eurozone crisis. Hollande railed against the capitalist pigs during his campaign, saying things like:
My real adversary will never be a candidate, even though it governs. It is the world of finance.
Hollande promised tens of billions of euros for job creation and education and to do so, he proposed a hefty tax on France’s wealthiest citizens–a whopping 75%. That’s the kind of property grab that would almost make Karl Marx proud–almost.
Beyond that, Hollande took a decidedly liberal stance on social issues, promising to make gay marriage legal and defending abortion rights. And guess what, abortions and birth control are publicly funded.
But much remains to be seen and questions abound. How will Hollande’s fiscal policies jive with Germany’s hard-liner Angela Merkel and will they work in a time of Europe-wide financial crisis?