Monday 23 April 2018

Hollande's partner told to 'know her place' amid tweet row

Jean-Marc Ayrault. Photo: Reuters
Jean-Marc Ayrault. Photo: Reuters

Henry Samuel in Paris

France's prime minister warned Francois Hollande's partner yesterday to "keep to her place" after she backed his former partner's rival in parliamentary elections, causing a major political headache for the president.

Jean-Marc Ayrault became the highest ranking French Socialist to give Valerie Trierweiler a public dressing down for her online swipe at Segolene Royal, the mother of Mr Hollande's four children.

Mr Hollande was reportedly furious at a tweet Ms Trierweiler sent out, wishing "good luck" to Ms Royal's rival in the western La Rochelle constituency before Sunday's elections.

The message put her at odds with the president, who officially backs Ms Royal and has offered her a post as president of the National Assembly should she win.

Mr Ayrault told France Info radio: "[Ms Trierweiler's] role is a discreet one, which is not easy to figure out.

"I can accept that beginnings are always a bit complicated, but everyone must keep to their place."

The prime minister also said Mr Hollande shared his view that "one should not mix one's public and private lives".

He reiterated that Ms Royal had both his and the president's "full support" in her election battle against the Socialist dissident Olivier Falorni.

In more embarrassment for Mr Hollande, a poll released yesterday forecast that Mr Falorni -- who was expelled from the Socialist Party for refusing to stand down -- would trounce Ms Royal by 58pc to 42pc on Sunday.

While she narrowly came top in the first round, supporters of the local ousted Right-wing UMP candidate appear to be heeding his call to vote for "anyone but Royal".

Despite the growing political storm, 47-year-old Ms Trierweiler refused yesterday to apologise for the tweet, saying it was "idiotic" to suggest she had acted out of jealousy of Ms Royal (58) who was Mr Hollande's lover for 30 years.

"To speak of jealousy in this business is idiotic," she told RTL radio.

"I see no mixing of public and private lives here. Things should be put back into perspective. Everything has got out of all proportion."

Rival

She added that it was "unfair" to castigate her for backing Ms Royal's rival as he was "one of Francois Hollande's oldest and staunchest supporters".

Her Elysee adviser argued that the former First Lady Daniele Mitterrand had publicly taken up different views to her Socialist husband Francois.

According to 'Le Parisien', Mr Hollande was furious at his girlfriend meddling in an electoral campaign.

"The president was very angry," one Elysee aide said. "He took it really badly. He's a shy man. She overstepped the mark. This risks tainting his image."

When elected last month, Mr Hollande (57) promised France a "normal" presidency after the years of Nicolas Sarkozy, whom he repeatedly criticised for blurring the lines between his public and family life.

Ms Trierweiler has been accused of returning France to the worst days of the Sarkozy era.

"We often said between ourselves that Valerie's attitude could be a problem for Francois, but we didn't get involved," one unnamed Socialist minister told 'Le Monde'.

"Who now among us will dare intervene and tell Francois how it is?" (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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