Four months after French President François Hollande's partner, Valérie Trierweiler, became one of the country’s least popular figures when she slighted his ex-companion with one fell tweet, France's first lady has said she "regrets" the snub.
French President François Hollande's partner Valérie Trierweiler admitted Wednesday that she had made a mistake in firing off a tweet snubbing Hollande's ex-companion and said that she "regrets" it.
"It was a mistake that I regret. I must have been clumsy because this was badly interpreted," Trierweiler told the Ouest-France newspaper. "I had not yet realised that I was no longer a simple citizen. It won't happen again."
During parliamentary elections in June, Trierweiler sent out a tweet wishing good luck to the man opposing Ségolène Royal -- Hollande's ex-partner and the mother of their four children, and who Hollande had publicly backed in the race.
Her tweeted support for Royal's rival, Olivier Falorni, attracted widespread coverage in the French press, with many calling it an embarrassment to Hollande so soon after his presidential victory.
Wednesday's apology seemed to be a delayed attempt to rehabilitate Trierweiler with the French public.
"It is entirely to her credit that Valerie Trierweiler has taken the time to express her regrets," government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said after the first lady's interview with Ouest-France.
There has long been speculation of an intense rivalry between Royal and Trierweiler, and a string of books have attempted to chronicle the political love triangle.
Background to the love triangle
Although never married, François Hollande and Ségolene Royal were together for almost 30 years and had four children. Valérie Trierweiler, a reporter with the French weekly Paris Match, began trailing the political couple after she was assigned to cover the Socialist Party in the 1990s.
Hollande and Royal split in 2007 shortly after her failed presidential bid. Hollande admitted in 2010 that he was in a relationship with Trierweiler, but she recently revealed that they began their affair as early as 2005. In 2012, Hollande provocatively called Trierweiler la femme de ma vie (the love of my life).
Hollande reportedly became smitten with Trierweiler back in the 1980s and they had become a couple by 2007, although publicly he remained with Royal as she ran unsuccessfully against Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency that year.
An opinion poll released Wednesday showed that two-thirds of the French have a negative opinion of Trierweiler.
The Harris Interactive poll for celebrity magazine VSD showed that 67 percent of respondents have a "fairly negative" or "very negative" view of the unofficial first lady, with 42 percent saying Hollande's private life was having a negative impact on the president's image.
Hollande's approval ratings have also slumped, amid persistent economic woes and rising unemployment. Opponents have aimed to portray him as a hapless ditherer who lives in fear of the two formidable women in his life.
Trierweiler also told Ouest-France that she had given up plans to host a television show, saying that "being the president's partner and working for a television station might raise questions".
But she continues to write on non-political topics for Paris Match magazine, where she worked before Hollande's ascent to the presidency.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2012-10-03