Thursday 21 September 2017

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet: France's battle royal between Ségolène Royal and Valérie Trierweiler has the nation gripped

Valérie Trierweiler: giving France a delightful taste of personal strife. Photo: Getty Images
Valérie Trierweiler: giving France a delightful taste of personal strife. Photo: Getty Images

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet

THE French, like most of us, love a catfight. When First Girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler tweeted her support for the opponent of Ségolène Royal, the rival she supplanted in the affections of President François Hollande, in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, the entire nation sank with delight into the bliss of watching the political become personal.

Barely a month ago, the day after her partner was elected President of the French Republic, Trierweiler confidently told Agence France Presse how much better suited to the job she was than her predecessor, Carla Bruni, Nicolas Sarkozy’s third wife. “Carla Bruni comes from a world entirely alien to politics: fashion, showbusiness. She doesn’t know its codes.” She, on the other hand, Trierweiler explained somewhat smugly, had been a political journalist for 20 years. “I know politics, I know the media.”



The woman many of the French are calling “Rottweiler” then illustrated the shortest way to link the words “pride”, “goeth”, “before” and “fall”. Nicolas Sarkozy had been kicked out of office chiefly for having paraded his private life with ostentation. Demurring that she would play “no political part whatsoever”, Trierweiler made it difficult to forget her existence for one minute. Whether she was bemoaning that she didn’t like the title “First Lady” and inviting the public to think up a new one, or insisting that she could remain a working Paris Match reporter “in all independence” while maintaining a staff and office at the Élysée Palace, she was hardly ever out of the news.

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