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France

French uproar as Hollande's ex claims he 'mocked the poor'

© Patrick Kovarik / AFP

Video by James CREEDON

Text by Tony TODD

Latest update : 2014-09-05

French President François Hollande must have known the risks of jilting his partner – a well-known political and society journalist with a fierce reputation – in such a spectacular fashion in January.

On Thursday, Valérie Trierweiler took her revenge on Hollande for his infidelity in a kiss-and-tell book titled “Thank you for this moment”.

In the book, Trierweiler details her split from the unmarried French head of state after gossip magazine Closer revealed he was having an affair with 42-year-old actress Julie Gayet.

She had also caused huge political embarrassment for Socialist Hollande, 60, whom she claims has little patience for the poor and refers to them jokingly as “the toothless”.

"He presented himself [in his successful 2012 election campaign] as a man who disliked the rich," wrote 49-year-old Trierweiler.

"In reality, the president doesn't like the poor. In private, this man - the left-winger - calls them 'the toothless' and is so pleased at how funny he is."

Sleeping pills 

Trierweiler, who had earned herself the nickname “Rottweiler” for her aggressive journalistic style, vowed that she would not keep quiet after the very public split with Hollande after a nine-year relationship.

She claimed in the book that their relationship was initially "electric" but that her partner became increasingly "dehumanised" as he got closer to the top job.

She wrote that she had heard rumours of Hollande’s affair in late 2013 and confronted him about it. He insisted they were false, according to Trierweiler.

And when Closer published pictures of Hollande going on secret visits to see Gayet, her life imploded.

“Julie Gayet was top of the morning news,” she wrote. “I’m cracking up, I can’t hear anything. I rush to the bathroom. I take the small plastic bag containing sleeping pills. François follows me.”

“François chased after me and tried to grab the sleeping pills. I ran into the bedroom. He got hold of the bag of sleeping pills, and it ripped. The pills scattered all over the floor and the bed, but I was able to grab a few. I swallowed what I could. I just wanted to sleep, I didn’t want to live through the hours that I know would follow.”

Trierweiler went off the radar for eight days after the news broke, checking into hospital for stress. Hollande ended her position as French First Lady – a title that was never really official – on January 25.

Political damage

For all the interest at Trieweiler’s reaction to Hollande’s affair, the damage to his political credibility as a Socialist leader who she said made fun of the poor caused shockwaves on Thursday.

In an unexpected turn, Hollande’s former partner Ségolène Royal, the mother of their four children whom he left for Trierweiler, leapt to his defence.

"This is the opposite of what he stands for," Royal, who is now environment minister in Hollande’s government, told RMC radio, calling the accusation "total nonsense".

Even Hollande’s political arch enemy Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party, called the book a "profoundly indecent settling of scores" and a form of "vengeance”.

But she went on to accuse both Hollande and Trierweiler of “sullying the authority of the presidency” through the affair and subsequent revelations.

The 320-page memoir was written in the utmost secrecy and Hollande’s office claims he had “no knowledge of it”.

Extracts of the book were published Wednesday by glossy magazine Paris Match and daily Le Monde.

Trierweiler was reportedly paid a 70,000 euro advance for the book which has an initial print run of 200,000.

On Thursday it was the bestselling book on Amazon France, shooting to the online bookseller’s number one spot in just one day and overtaking the hugely popular erotic novel "Fifty Shades Of Grey."

Date created : 2014-09-04

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