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France

'The time for change is now', say French Socialists

Text by Aude MAZOUE

Latest update : 2012-01-12

Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande celebrated the opening of his campaign headquarters in Paris on Wednesday, unveiling his official campaign slogan – “The time for change is now” – in front of a panel of journalists.

Roughly 100 days before the first round of voting in the French presidential election, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande opened his campaign headquarters on Wednesday in Paris as a panel of journalists looked on.

He also unveiled his official campaign slogan: “The time for change is now.”

The site of Hollande’s operation is a mansion - across from the Unesco headquarters - in Paris’s chic 7th district, though the candidate was mindful of not riling a French population faced with high unemployment by choosing an overly lavish building.

Hollande’s campaign is renting the building until May 7 for 40,000 euros per month, and has vowed to turn the space into a welcoming place for the 80 campaign staff, journalists, Socialist supporters and, in the candidate’s own words, “anyone who wants to join us”.

A minimalist layout

The campaign’s press service described the headquarters as a space of one thousand square metres spread out over four floors and organised in a very “rational” manner to maximise efficiency.

The door to the mansion opens into an entrance, where a huge banner reads: “For 2012 to truly be a new year: Hollande 2012.” An ornate iron ramp leads to a designated press area on the first floor, where photos of French citizens, accompanied by the campaign slogan, adorn white walls.

Hollande’s office is on the sparsely decorated second floor. The office of campaign manager Pierre Moscovici is right next door, while that of communications director Manuel Valls is located on the third floor.

Web campaign

One of the more surprising discoveries in Hollande’s headquarters is his girlfriend's office. Journalist Valerie Trierweiler is also located on the “communications floor”, in a sign that she may have a plum role in Hollande’s communications strategy.

The fourth and last floor of the building is occupied by Hollande’s online operation, which works daily to update the candidate’s Web site and social network accounts.

Various Socialist heavyweights were on hand to help their colleague celebrate the opening of the building. At the press conference, Hollande praised the “unity” of the once-fractured party – perhaps another indication that change is indeed the theme of the hour.

Date created : 2012-01-12

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