The five years of the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy were hallmarked by his unprecedented involvement in the day-to-day running of government, from policy announcements to public appearances, leaving his prime minister, François Fillon, in a backstage role. It became dubbed as the ‘hyper presidency’, a dramatic change from that of his predecessors, who perceived their role as a more lofty, behind-the-scenes management of the major affairs of state while their prime ministers were placed at the political frontline. The arrival of François Hollande, self-styled as ‘Mr Normal’, is expected to herald an abrupt rupture with Sarkozy’s media-conscious and agitated presidential style. But just what will be the power balance in his relationship with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, a longstanding friend and political ally? Stéphane Alliès reports.