A 21-gun salute sounded at the Elysee Palace in Paris today asConservative Jacques Chirac, mayor of Paris for nearly two decades, succeeded Socialist Francois Mitterrand. "I feel that hope has been vested in me," Chirac said in his inaugural address, promising to govern with "dignity, simplicity and loyalty to our republican values." Chirac, 62, failed in two earlier bids for the presidency.TIME Paris bureau chief Tom Sanctonsays the excitement was contagious among crowds who lined the Champs Elysee this morning. "The whole country's rooting for this administration to succeed," Sancton says. "In France, there's a sense that you have to really want it more than the other guys, and you have to have been a presidential hopeful for 20 or 30 years. And Chirac, the best campaigner, had been at it the longest and wanted it the most." Now, he adds, the new president plans a Thatcherite program to deliver on his campaign promise to sharply reduce unemployment.