PARIS (AP) —
Francois Hollande was sworn in Tuesday as France's new president — the first Socialist to lead the country since 1995 — and within hours named lawmaker Jean-Marc Ayrault as his new prime minister.
Ayrault, who leads the Socialists in Parliament, is a German speaker and a former teacher of the language of Goethe. That could be a key advantage for Hollande, whose success as president — as well as the fate of the entire 17-nation eurozone — may depend on his relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Underscoring the importance of that relationship, Hollande headed to Germany for a visit on the same day that he took office.
Ayrault (ay-ROW) and Hollande are said to be very close; they even sit next to each other in France's National Assembly chamber.
The 62-year-old Ayrault has served as a deputy in that lower house since 1986. He is also mayor of Nantes, a city on the Atlantic coast.