Saturday 23 September 2017

France's 'war of the roses' heats up after big loss at polls

Henry Samuel in Paris

SEGOLENE Royal has turned up the heat in her feud with Valerie Trierweiler after she blamed France's new first lady for her presidential election defeat to Nicolas Sarkozy five years ago.

Miss Trierweiler provoked a political storm last week with a Twitter message in which she wished "good luck" to the Socialist dissident rival of Miss Royal (58) in last Sunday's parliamentary elections.

Miss Trierweiler was initially defiant about the tweet, but admitted on Wednesday that she had "made a mistake" after Miss Royal, the mother of French President Francois Hollande's four children, was comprehensively defeated.

Mr Hollande was reportedly "furious", letting her know "it can never happen again".

Miss Royal had already said she was "wounded" by the "violent blow" from Miss Trierweiler in a feud termed "the war of the roses". But yesterday she went much further, claiming that Miss Trierweiler had been undermining her political career in the years since starting a relationship with her ex-partner.

She had previously reproached senior Socialists -- including Mr Hollande, who was party leader at the time -- of being less than supportive during the 2007 presidential race.

But she told the weekly magazine 'Le Point' yesterday that it was now clear Miss Trierweiler had kept Mr Hollande away from her during the presidential campaign.

"I realise that in 2007 (his affair with Ms Trierweiler) can't have helped matters. I now understand why Francois didn't help me," she said.

She intimated that she had been naive to trust her. "In 2007, I said to myself, 'It will pass, it'll work itself out.' So I took it on the chin," she said.

Miss Trierweiler met Mr Hollande while covering the Socialist Party for 'Paris Match' magazine, for which she still works.

Damage

They have been together since 2005 but they and the French media kept the relationship quiet during the 2007 presidential election so as not to damage Miss Royal's chances.

Miss Royal said it was outrageous that Miss Trierweiler's employer had allowed her to continue writing about Mr Hollande for so long given that they were together.

"In an Anglo-Saxon country, she would have been fired the same day," she said.

She said Miss Trierweiler had no reason to attack her. She had been the one who had been wronged -- "I'm the one whose family has been broken."

The outburst came as Miss Trierweiler publicly revealed her struggle to come to terms with Mr Hollande's partner of 30 years in a book co-written by her, charting his eight-month rise to the presidency, released yesterday.

In 'Francois Hollande, President', she writes beside a photo of Mr Hollande and Ms Royal: "Yes, the man I love had a woman before me. And she happened to be a presidential election candidate. I have to live with it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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