Hollande has made French presidency look 'ridiculous' - Sarkozy
Published 15/01/2014 | 22:56
François Hollande has made the French presidency look "ridiculous" with his scooter-driven nocturnal trips to visit his mistress, Nicolas Sarkozy was reported as saying.
As the scandal over Mr Hollande's affair with Julie Gayet, a 41-year old actress, continued to reverberate around France, Le Canard Enchaîné, the investigative weekly, said that Mr Sarkozy – his Right-wing predecessor – has been gloating over his rival's woes.
"He's got himself into a right old pickle," he was reported as saying to "visitors".
"Perhaps this will put an end to all his moralising," said Mr Sarkozy, whose Socialist successor has often accused of shamelessly exploiting his private life for political gain.
"With Carla, we tried to quickly make our relationship official because I didn't want a photo taken one sordid morning or after nightfall," Le Canard cites him as saying.
"While everyone has the right to a private life, when one is a public figure and president, one must be careful to avoid being ridiculous," he is quoted as scoffing.
"Well, that photo of Hollande coming out of his mistress' place with a motorbike helmet makes Hollande look totally ridiculous. He is the ridiculous president."
Mr Sarkozy's outburst came amid reports that Miss Gayet is pressing charges for "violation of privacy" against the magazine that published photos it said proves she is Mr Hollande's mistress.
Mr Hollande on Monday expressed his "total outrage" at last Friday's publication in Closer magazine of photos showing Miss Gayet arriving at a flat near the Elysée, followed by a helmet-clad man on a scooter it said was the president.
He admitted that he was enduring "painful" times with Valérie Trierweiler, his current partner and de facto First Lady.
But the president, who has not denied the affair, said he would not be pressing charges for violation of privacy as it would be seen as "double standards" given that he enjoys presidential immunity.
However, according to RTL radio, Miss Gayet has decided to take legal action – although her lawyer Vincent Toledano has refused to confirm this.
Despite the furore over the affair, Miss Gayet's ex-husband told France Inter radio she is remaining "very calm".
"It's obviously not easy. At the same time, she's very calm about it all and very sure of herself, I think, because there was no fault, no betrayal," said Santiago Amigorena, an Argentinian writer and father of their two children.
Miss Trierweiler is currently in hospital due to "emotional shock" and a "serious case of the blues".
According to Le Canard, she had a "nervous breakdown" when Mr Hollande broke the news of his affair on Thursday night. Miss Trierweiler is reported to have told René Lemas, Mr Hollande's chief of staff: "I have been humiliated in the front of the whole of France."
Such was the shock her doctor sent her to Paris' Salpétrière hospital, where her Elysée spokesman said she could remain for a week.
Miss Gayet's reported decision to press charges came as it emerged she has been dropped from a prestigious jury whose members are nominated by the French government – apparently to quash any claims of a conflict of interest.
The actress was due to be on the prestigious Villa Medicis panel, which is charged with selecting artists and creators to take up residence at the French Academy in Rome.
But on Wednesday, Aurélie Filippetti, the culture minister, confirmed that she would in fact not be on the jury.
Mr Hollande on Monday declined to comment on his private life, but promised to provide "clarification" before a visit to the White House next month in with France's first couple are due to stay with Barack and Michelle Obama.
Privately some of Mr Hollande's ministers were said to be appalled at his antics.
"He's behaving like a teenager," Le Canard cites Manuel Valls, his interior minister, as exclaiming.
Despite "Gayetgate", as the French press have dubbed the affair, Mr Hollande was reportedly relaxed and jovial after Monday's press conference.
After he dropped in on a group of French journalists still at the Elysée for a debrief, Le Monde said: "He was more amiable that we have seen him for a long time."
"It was as if political as well as personal adversity were the best kind of fuel for calm".