Date: June 24 2012
FRANCOIS Hollande might have thought the eurozone crisis and the question of France's spiralling public debt would have knocked his love life off the front pages.
But that underestimates the media's thirst for an extraordinary public-private triangle, which shows no sign of abating.
Headlines were made around the world when Valerie Trierweiler, a journalist and France's first lady, used Twitter to take a dig at the President's famous politician ex-partner, Segolene Royal, during the important parliamentary election campaign. An angry Ms Royal lost and the curtain was raised on the seemingly rancorous backdrop to the presidential relationships, causing much embarrassment to Mr Hollande.
But the Trierweiler-Royal saga continued over the past week as Ms Royal told a magazine of her hurt feelings; Ms Trierweiler told a paper through an unnamed ''friend'' that she had made an ''error''; and French satirists leapt on it. The satirical television program Les Guignols ran the latest in a regular series of sketches of a buffoon-like Mr Hollande caught between sparring, jealous partners in what promises to be the longest-running joke of the presidency.
Magazines have rushed to put Ms Trierweiler on the cover, perhaps hoping for the same boost in sales as Cecilia Sarkozy brought during the worst moments of her ups and downs with the former president Nicolas Sarkozy. ''Who's the boss?'' asks L'Express under a picture of Mr Hollande and Ms Trierweiler. ''Alone versus everyone: How she can bounce back,'' headlined Elle magazine with a Trierweiler cover photo.
The latest element in the mix is Ms Trierweiler's new book, Francois Hollande, President: 400 Days Behind the Scenes of a Victory, published on Friday, in which she gives her take on Mr Hollande's presidential campaign in the form of personal and sometimes acerbic picture captions for a photo-essay on Mr Hollande's win. Ms Trierweiler, who covered the Socialist Party for Paris Match and began a relationship with Mr Hollande two years before Ms Royal officially split from him in 2007, has vowed to keep working as a journalist. But the book is her first written account of a campaign in which she was ever present.
Her contributions read like a campaign diary: ''He takes me in his arms, safe from view. I cry, he laughs,'' she writes of the night he won the Socialist primary race.
But the caption dominating media coverage is about Mr Hollande's rally in Rennes with his ex, Ms Royal - their first rally together of the campaign. Ms Trierweiler writes: ''Ah, the Rennes rally! Or rather the Hollande-Royal rally. In short, the Francois-Segolene reunion … the photographers are here en masse. 'Will they kiss or shake hands?' Those are the crucial questions my fellow journalists are asking. Yes, the man I love had a woman before me. And she happens to have been a presidential candidate. I have to live with it.''
Ms Royal told the news weekly Le Point of her anger at Ms Trierweiler's surprise tweet of support for a rival candidate who beat her in La Rochelle. ''It's an inversion of roles. It was me whose family was wrecked [after Mr Hollande left her for Ms Trierweiler],'' Ms Royal said.
Ms Royal felt Ms Trierweiler's relationship with Mr Hollande was part of the reason she did not get full support from him during her presidential bid in 2007. She criticised Paris Match for allowing Ms Trierweiler to keep writing about Mr Hollande when she had begun a relationship with him. ''In an Anglo-Saxon country, it would have been the sack,'' she said, adding that Paris Match and its owner, Arnaud Lagardere, a friend of Mr Sarkozy, and Mr Sarkozy himself, were happy to see Ms Royal ''weakened''.
Ms Trierweiler did not go to the G20 in Mexico with Mr Hollande and has kept a low profile after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault advised greater ''discretion''. A source close to Mr Hollande said he was ''furious'' and it was clear that ''this could never happen again''.
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