Manama France's political parties geared up Monday for next month's key parliamentary elections, as Socialist president-elect Francois Hollande took his first steps to form a government.

Rumours swirled about who might take top posts in the executive after Hollande's defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday, with the Socialists anxious to seize the reins of power after being out of government for a decade.

The Socialists, Sarkozy's centre-right UMP and smaller parties were meanwhile getting ready for the two-round legislative vote on June 10 and 17, with Hollande and his team urging supporters to give them a strong majority.

'Much to do'

"There is still much to do in the months to come, first of all to give a majority to the president," Hollande, 57, said Sunday, shortly after his 52 to 48 per cent win over Sarkozy was announced. Under France's political system the president requires a parliamentary majority to maintain a government, otherwise the prime minister is in charge of the executive.

Hollande will officially become president on May 15, the date for the handover ceremony that the two campaign teams agreed to yesterday.

Hollande's victory has been cheered by Arabs as a positive prospect to improve relations. However, while some countries hope to see in the new president an ally or an asset, Arab analysts warned that his presidency would not make tangible changes in the French policy.

Several Algerians living in France said that they expected Hollande to be more understanding of the plight of immigrants and to assist them on humanitarian grounds. However, countrymen commenting in social networks said that there would be no changes.

"There is no hope that Hollande will change the legislation endorsed by the French senate," they said. "Sarkozy is gone, but French interests and policies will remain."

Greece warned to stick to austerity

Greece's election winner began Monday the Herculean task of forming a government as Berlin and Brussels warned Athens to stick to austerity cuts despite the poll making clear that voters are fed up.

The New Democracy conservatives said that after meeting the president, party leader Antonis Samaras would "talk to all parties with a view to forming a government, except Golden Dawn," the neo-Nazi group that entered parliament for the first time.


Sunday's stunning election result saw a huge protest vote against the terms of Greece's two rescues, leaving Samaras few options as he seeks a "national salvation government" committed to the euro.


A new government has to be formed by May 17 or new elections will be called.





— With inputs from AFP