France's 'President Normal' declares modest assets

France's president-elect Francois Hollande -- who campaigned as a "Mr Normal" figure -- declared a very modest collection of assets as he prepared for his swearing-in ceremony next Tuesday.

Hollande, a 57-year-old career politician with four children, owns three properties in the south -- a family villa in the hills above Cannes and two small flats -- worth a total of 1.17 million euros ($1.5 million).

Aside from that, Hollande owns no shares and has a life insurance policy worth only 3,550 euros, furniture worth 15,000 euros and a total of 8,258 euros in current accounts, according to a declaration in the official gazette Friday.

By comparison, France's outgoing leader Nicolas Sarkozy leaves office with a pair of life insurance policies worth a total of 2,584,034 euros (around $3.3 million) and 59,919 euros in his current account.

Sarkozy's declaration, made on March 24, lists the value of his collection of "autographs, watches and statuettes" at 100,000 euros.

The right-winger, also 57, was a lawyer before coming into government and suffered at the poll from his reputation as a friend of the rich with flashy tastes symbolised by his Ray-Ban sunglasses and Rolex watch.

The declarations do not reveal the assets of the presidents' partners.

Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is a former supermodel and the heiress to an Italian industrialist, with expensive properties of her own. Hollande's partner Valerie Trierweiler is a magazine journalist.

Hollande was formerly the partner of Segolene Royal, the defeated 2007 Socialist candidate and the mother of his four children.

Reports in the Cannes local press suggest that the family still shares access to the villa near Cannes, which has a small pool and a nice view but is far from comparing to the luxury properties further down the Riviera coast.

Hollande, who rented the flat in Paris he used as an MP before his election and was famous for riding a scooter to get about the capital, will now live rent-free in the Elysee Palace and receive a presidential salary.

But here too he intends to adopt a different tone than did Sarkozy.

After Sarkozy came to office in 2007, parliament increased his salary by 170 percent from 7,000 euros to 19,000 per month -- 228,000 euros (around $290,000) per year -- to match that of the prime minister.

Hollande has vowed that among his new government's first acts will be a law to reduce his salary and that of all his ministers by 30 percent.

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