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France

Hollande's ex-partner Ségolène Royal makes political comeback

© AFP

Video by Jennifer LUSH

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-03

Ségolène Royal, French President François Hollande's former partner and the mother of his four children, was named minister of the environment, sustainable development and energy as part of a major cabinet reshuffle announced on Wednesday.

Royal’s joining the Hollande administration as part of a cabinet reshuffle is the latest development not only in her long political career but also in a high-profile personal history that has kept her in the headlines almost as much as has her public service.

Like most of France’s leaders, 60-year-old Royal attended the prestigious Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA), where she was in the same class as Hollande and whom she met at a party.

By the time she lost her presidential bid against Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, she and Hollande had ended their almost 30-year-long relationship.

Royal did not even place in the top tier in the 2011 Socialist primary, which Hollande won before taking the presidency, and suffered another professional setback just months later, failing to win a seat in the National Assembly in legislative elections.

Adding insult to injury was the fact that Valérie Trierweiler, Hollande’s partner during the legislative polls and the woman for whom Hollande had left her, tweeted her support for Royal’s election rival.

The move embarrassed the Hollande administration and was a public humiliation for Treirweiler, who later said she "regretted" the snub.

But Royal remained active in politics, keeping her elected post as president of Poitou-Charentes, a region on the Atlantic coast. She also took on a high-ranking, but unpaid position at a state financial institution meant to promote French investment.

According to rumours, Trierweiler opposed the idea of Hollande picking Royal for his first cabinet in 2012. But her appointment on Wednesday was widely expected. After her second presidential bid failed, she made sure to appear ever the team player, publicly endorsing Hollande and celebrating alongside him and other top Socialists on his election night.

Royal has also continued to tend to her image, recently gracing the cover of Le Parisien magazine and telling the press that quitting politics would be “unthinkable”.

Now that she’s back in the spotlight, all eyes will inevitably be not only on her political comeback but on the dynamic she has with her new boss and former flame.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

Date created : 2014-04-02

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