French President Nicolas Sarkozy married supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni at the Elysée Palace Saturday, the palace confirmed. The couple met in November, a month after his divorce from Cecilia.
Nine months after winning the presidency on a promise to reform France, Nicolas Sarkozy ushered in major change in his personal life by marrying supermodel-cum-singer Carla Bruni.
Dubbed the "hyper-president" for his whirlwind style of governing, Sarkozy had recently earned another label from the French press -- "the bling-bling president" -- for parading his glitzy romance with Bruni in public.
His third marriage comes just three months after his divorce from Cecilia Ciganer-Albaniz, a former model and PR executive who had over their 11 years of marriage served as one of his closest advisers.
Cracks in the marriage appeared during the election campaign when Cecilia failed to turn out to vote in the second round while she made no secret of her dislike for the Elysee and its ceremonial trappings.
When the divorce was announced on October 18, Sarkozy was gearing up for one of his biggest reform tests: confronting union strikes over his plan to scrap pension privileges for some public sector employees.
"It was not the happiest time in my life," Sarkozy, 53, commented at a news conference earlier this month about this divorce.
But the president went on to announce that his relationship with 40-year-old Bruni was serious and all but confirmed that he planned to marry the former Italian model who turned to a career in music five years ago.
Born to a Hungarian immigrant father and the grandson of a Greek Jew on his mother's side, Sarkozy grew up in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly where he began his political career at the age of 22 as a city councillor.
His father, a Hungarian aristocrat who fled communism, left the family of three boys during Sarkozy's early childhood years. Sarkozy rarely saw him and grew up mostly in the care of his maternal grandparents.
After attending Catholic school, he studied law and took part in rightwing student politics before joining President Jacques Chirac's party and winning a seat in parliament.
A strong public speaker, Sarkozy got his first big break in politics when he was elected mayor of Neuilly at the age of 28, becoming France's youngest mayor.
It was in Neuilly that he shot to prominence when he helped negotiate the release of schoolchildren who had been taken hostage in 1993 by a deranged man who called himself The Human Bomb.
For years a protege of Chirac, Sarkozy fell out with him after he backed rival Edouard Balladur for the presidency in 1995 and later openly campaigned to dethrone Chirac.
In a best-selling biography, journalist Catherine Nay portrayed Sarkozy as a outsider who fought his way tooth and nail to the top, consumed by ambition and eager to get to work on reforming France.
Sarkozy's reputation as a blunt-talker was established during his two stints as interior minister, when he moved to tighten laws on illegal immigration and vowed to get tough with delinquents in the poor suburbs.
"I was the most talked-about interior minister. Now I'm the most talked-about president. What can I do about that?" Sarkozy quipped recently.
He has made "breaking with the past" the catch-phrase of his election campaign and of his presidency, promising American-style transparency and a results-driven approach to politics.
After handily defeating Socialist rival Segolene Royal in the presidential race, he pushed through tax cuts, moved to curb the 35-hour work week by allowing tax-free overtime and sat down with unions to negotiate labour market reform.
But it was the change in presidential style that caused the most hubbub.
An avid long-distance runner, Sarkozy was often photographed out on a neighborhood jog, sporting aviator sunglasses and a New York Police Department t-shirt.
Whether he is vacationing on the yacht of billionaire friend Vincent Bollore or flying aboard his private plane to Egypt, Sarkozy is unapologetic about his friendships with the wealthy, showing he is comfortable with money and success.
Under his leadership, France has warmed up to the United States and raised its profile in Europe.
For months, opinion polls showed Sarkozy's style was striking a chord with the French, but a recent slump in his popularity rating has led analysts to suggest that the French are growing impatient and want their economic concerns to be addressed head-on.
Sarkozy has a 10-year-old son, Louis, from his marriage to Cecilia and two sons, Pierre, 22, and Jean, 21, from his first marriage to Marie-Dominique Culioli.
Date created : 2008-02-02