Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Royal decree on low-cut tops

Read more

DEBATE

Ukraine, The Escalation: No Stopping Putin? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Ukraine, The Escalation: No Stopping Putin?

Read more

FOCUS

Bangladesh: Textile workers' lives still at risk?

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

José Bové, Candidate for the EU Commission presidency, Group of the Greens

Read more

WEB NEWS

NYPD's online campaign backfires

Read more

ENCORE!

Celebrating the Bard's birthday in Britain

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yuki Tatsumi, Senior Associate of the East Asia Program, Stimson Center

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

USA: Executions halted over drugs secrecy

Read more

  • US warns Russia against making ‘expensive mistake’ in Ukraine

    Read more

  • Israel halts Middle East peace talks over Hamas deal

    Read more

  • French policemen accused of raping Canadian woman

    Read more

  • Internet should stay free of government intervention, conference says

    Read more

  • A radio station defends peace and tolerance in CAR

    Read more

  • Echoes of 2pac and Biggie? French rap feud turns violent

    Read more

  • Ferry disaster, nuclear test fears cloud Obama’s South Korea trip

    Read more

  • Fresh clashes in Rio over dancer's death

    Read more

  • US would defend Japan in islands dispute, Obama says

    Read more

  • Platini: PSG in danger over Financial Fair Play rules

    Read more

  • Afghan guard kills US doctors in Kabul hospital attack

    Read more

  • Ségolène Royal denies banning cleavage at French ministry

    Read more

  • Video: Mayor in east Ukraine ready ‘to turn Slaviansk into battlefield’

    Read more

  • New far-right mayor moves to quash Paris region mosque

    Read more

  • Millions of Syrians desperately need aid, says UN

    Read more

  • Muslims in CAR pray for an escape route

    Read more

  • Madrid beat Bayern 1-0 in first leg of Champions League semis

    Read more

  • Britain's ex-PM Blair warns against spread of radical Islam

    Read more

  • Turkish PM offers condolences to descendants of Armenians killed in 1915

    Read more

  • Gay marriage, one year on: ‘French civilisation did not crumble’

    Read more

France

French press pounces on first lady’s Twitter mishap

©

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2012-06-13

Valérie Trierweiler, France’s new first lady, has become the focus of intense scrutiny by the French press after she sent a Twitter message embarrassing the Socialist Party four days ahead of key parliamentary elections.

French President François Hollande’s honeymoon cruise with the press ran aground on Thursday as newspapers pounced on the controversy pitting his companion Valérie Trierweiler against Hollande’s own Socialist Party.

On Wednesday, Trierweiler embarrassed leaders of the president’s political camp by endorsing a rebel Socialist Party (PS) member who is running for a parliamentary seat in the western city of La Rochelle against the party’s official candidate, Hollande’s former partner, mother of their four children and PS heavyweight, Ségolene Royal.

“A promise that one tweet broke,” the conservative daily Le Figaro wrote in reference to Hollande’s campaign pledge to keep his private and public life separate and be a “normal” head-of-state.

Hollande told voters he would lead a “no-drama” administration that would avoid the constant media exposure and encroachment on private life that former president Nicolas Sarkozy seemed to invite.

On Thursday morning, however, Hollande and Trierweiler were the focus of intense scrutiny across the French media, while the hash tag #Trierweilergate had been coined on Twitter.

Normal presidency no more

Even newspapers that have typically shown more sympathy toward Hollande, like the left-leaning Libération, widely covered the incident.

First lady Valérie Trierweiler makes the June 13 cover of the French newspaper Libération. "France's first gaffe" the headline reads.

“France’s first gaffe” Libération headlined, in an allusion to Trierweiler’s reported wish to find a substitute for the “first lady” title.

“It is an improbable movie script that mixes political rivalries and private jealousies, power plays and intimate secrets and all at the highest level of the State,” wrote Libération’s Grégoire Biseau. “We thought this kind of cocktail would remain the trademark of the former president… now we know that the normal presidency of Hollande is finally not so normal.”

In a blog titled “The first lady’s existential crisis”, Le Monde commentator Françoise Fressoz describes Trierweiler as a woman torn between her journalistic reflexes and her ill-defined new role, and Hollande as her unsuspecting victim.

“It would have been better to keep silent, because it’s François Hollande who now faces the firing squad. The 'normal president', who had almost been faultless, is now forced to comment on his romantic life and threatened by the celebrity treatment he strongly condemned during the past five years,” Fressoz wrote.

Regional daily Le Parisien was among several newspapers reporting that Trierweiler failed to inform Hollande before publishing her unilateral endorsement and that his administration was reeling from the affair. “The president was very upset. He took to the news very badly. He is a modest man and she crossed the line. This could hurt his image,” the daily quoted a presidential advisor as saying.

Not just an election hurdle

Le Parisien also emphasized the stunned reactions from the Socialist Party, whose leaders have been forced to answer embarrassing questions just four days before a parliamentary election that could see them win a majority after ten years as the opposition.

“The only thing that matters to us is that François Hollande backs Ségolène Royal,” the daily quotes a startled Socialist Party chief Martine Aubry as saying. Royal herself avoided taking questions from the press after finding out about Trierweiler’s message, the daily reported.

Many publications decided to publish opposing photos of Trierweiler and Royal and highlighted the potentially poisoned ties between the Elysée Presidential Palace and the Socialist Party.

“[Trierweiler and Royal], each woman with her own status, must now share a single terrain – the Socialist Party – and a single man – François Hollande,” the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur wrote in its online version.

The incident was also the opportunity for many anaylsts to comment on Trierweiler’s previously underreported intense jealousy of Hollande’s former partner, and question if the first lady was not a long-term liability for both the Socialist Party and Hollande himself.

The L'Express weekly wrote a rare article about the rivalry between Trierweiler and Royal on May 19, and rehashed the story on Thursday in light of the Twitter incident.

Writing in the Marianne weekly, Christine Clerc said she was finding it difficult to continue to defend Trierweiler’s independent spirit: “[Trierweiler] should have made the choice a long time ago. She should have refused to grace the red carpet at the Elysée Palace on inauguration day, then climb the steps of the White House. You cannot be first lady, as well as a critical journalist, as well as jealous woman, without disappointing the French people and destabilizing your partner’s presidency.”

 

Date created : 2012-06-13

  • FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012

    Royal gets tweet-slapped by Hollande’s girlfriend

    Read more

  • FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012

    French Socialists poised for parliamentary triumph

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)