Tweet by Hollande's partner stirs up memories of Sarkozy media circus


PARIS – A tweet by France’s first lady in support of an election rival of president François Hollande’s ex-partner has triggered a politically damaging media row just days from a decisive round of parliamentary elections.

The tweet made public a private rivalry between Mr Hollande’s partner, Valerie Trierweiler, and his former companion, Ségolène Royal, and threatened to wreck his promise of a more sober presidency after the soap opera of his predecessor’s love life.

In her post on the messaging network, Ms Trierweiler told Olivier Falorni – a candidate for La Rochelle constituency in western France that Ms Royal is contesting – to “Take heart”, praising him for his dedication.

Adding to the spice, Ms Royal, who lost a 2007 presidential contest to Nicolas Sarkozy, has the support of her Socialist Party and its one-time boss, Mr Hollande. Mr Hollande is on track to win a majority for his Socialist bloc in Sunday’s run-off, after a victory in last week’s first round, but he needs to keep all his supporters on board.

An Ifop poll published yesterday suggested Ms Royal would lose the run-off, taking 42 per cent of the vote versus 58 for Mr Folorni, compounding the alarm in Socialist Party ranks.

“The First Gaffe of France” left-leaning newspaper Libération declared over a full front-page photo of Ms Trierweiler.

It devoted five pages to the affair, while the popular daily Le Parisien published photos of the two women under the headline, “The secret history of a rivalry.”

Le Monde said in an editorial the affair echoed “the worst hours” of the very public domestic dramas between former president Mr Sarkozy and his ex-wife Cecilia.

The main victim in the Twitter scandal, it wrote, “is the image of a consistent president, serene and master of his message”.

During his campaign, Mr Hollande said he would do away with the much-criticised intermingling of private and public spheres that alienated many voters from Mr Sarkozy, whether his high-profile wooing of former supermodel Carla Bruni or splashy vacations taken with the rich and powerful while president. – (Reuters)