Carla laying low as rumours of a new baby spread
As his popularity falls, a new baby could be just what Sarkozy needs to win next election, writes Aoife Drew
We've had the fabulous Will and Kate show. Love, happiness, potential babies . . . what more can the world possibly hope for? Well, now it's time for Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy to step into the limelight. There is a blizzard of rumours that a baby is on the cards for the 43-year-old French First Lady and her adoring husband.
Although Carla is remaining tight-lipped, her pregnancy is almost official. It's the moment French tabloids have been dearly praying for since the couple's wedding in February 2008. After seven or eight false alarms, this time it could well be the real thing. Mini-Carla or Mini-Sarko (even smaller than his papa) could be with us in roughly six months.
Last weekend, Carla was spotted leaving the Ritz Hotel in Paris wearing a billowing white t-shirt, and photos definitely suggested a little bump on her normally uber-flat stomach. Closer, a top-selling French tabloid, was the first to release the happy news, with its editor claiming to be certain of the story's veracity.
Usually, the Elysee Palace shoots down these kinds of rumours. This time, the palace has simply declined to comment, merely suggesting that this was a private matter for the couple.
Carla's mother, Marisa Bruni, denied the reports, possibly wishing to protect her daughter at the tentative beginnings of a pregnancy -- at 43 years of age, Carla would fall in the high-risk category. However, VSD, a French glossy magazine, last week revealed that a close advisor of Sarkozy's has confirmed the pregnancy off the record. The ex-supermodel has been lying low at her family mansion near the French Riviera town of Cap Negre.
She's reportedly on doctor's orders to take it easy. Her entourage has confirmed she won't attend the opening of the Cannes film festival on May 11, despite her role in Woody Allen's film Midnight in Paris, which will kick off the event. Also, the release of her new album, which had been planned for this autumn, has been put back until next year.
Last year, Carla prayed for a child during a state visit to India, and before that she had confided to French women's magazine Madame Figaro: "I would love to (have another baby) but I'm not sure my age will allow me. If it's not biologically possible, I will adopt."
It looks like her wishes may have been granted. Carla has a 10-year-old son, Aurelien, from her relationship with philosopher Raphael Enthoven, and Sarkozy has three boys, two from his marriage to Marie-Dominique Culioli, Jean (26) and Pierre (25), as well as Louis (14) born during his union with Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz. He's also grandfather to his son Jean's baby Solal. The icing on the cake would be a little girl in this male-dominated family.
Sarko must really feel like all his Christmases have come at once. His popularity is hovering at 28 per cent and a revealing film biography that charts his rise to power and the break-up of his marriage has been selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
La Conquete (The Conquest) shows him fretting about his height and struggling to cope with the break-up of his marriage to Cecilia -- in short, it will do his public profile no favours, which must be worrisome given that the presidential campaign will begin this autumn.
So this is the perfect antidote. What better image for a candidate than a tender father smiling affectionately at his newborn child? Sarkozy will surely take the opportunity to present himself as a caring, paternal figure, worrying about the future of his nation. A baby certainly gave David Cameron, Tony Blair and JFK's votes a boost in the past.
And as for the worries around Carla's age, well if there's anything Rachida Dati (ex-justice minister and ex-close ally of Sarkozy) can do, Carla can do it better.
Rachida gave birth at 43 years of age to a little girl called Zohra and was famously back to work only five days afterwards, with hardly any baby bump. No doubt Carla will be back in a bikini by day three post-birth.
For now, Sarko and Carla are like lovesick teenagers. They kiss languorously in public, apparently oblivious to their blushing audience. He calls her "Carlita" and she calls him "mon amoreux". So we will probably have to put up with more of the same saccharine in the months to come.
As much as the French proclaim not to care, Carla and Sarko's rumoured future baby is already the talk of tout Paris. Unlike Kate and William, it's unlikely there will be bebe Sarko plates, stickers and related paraphernalia in their future, but there certainly will be a whole lot of ooh-la-la.