A whiff of shock and scandal in French politics – François Hollande, our lack lustre leader is having an affair. Well, this is France and whereas in other countries such a revelation would lead to a public outcry followed by the resignation of the President, this is France, where a spot of extra marital horizontal jogging is a national sport.
Don’t expect an American style, tearful prime time TV presidential apology – Mr Hollande doing his mea culpa in front of the world’s media, begging the Almighty and the voters for forgiveness, because frankly, no one really cares, in fact all this might just serve to boost Mr Hollande’s disastrous opinion poll ratings. With just over 22%, he is currently the most unpopular president of the last 50 years, even more unpopular than Nicolas Sarkozy. Even when he was truly in the opinion poll doldrums, Sarko still managed a popularity rating of around 37%.
At last, something has happened to make President Hollande vaguely interest, in fact there is some consternation in the nation’s media as to how a provincial politician with all the charisma of a small town grocer could actually interest Julie Gayet, an attractive and vivacious French film actress who is nearly 20 years his junior.
With his crumpled suits, double chins and square glasses. Mr Hollande has about as much sex appeal as a maths teacher. He expresses hismelf like a Telly tubby and moves with the grace of a Thunderbirds puppet. What do women see in him? Could it be the appeal of power? A session between the sheets with a man who has his finger on the nuclear button. Or perhaps there is something deep down in the presidential trousers that might even put Rocco Siffredi to shame? We’ll probably never know.
If the rumours of an affair between Ms Gayet and Mr Hollande are confirmed, this will be his third « public partner » – The president’s first Partner was Ségolene Royal. They were together for almost twenty years and had four children.
The Royal/Hollande couple broke up in 2007 when Ms Royal made her unsuccessful bid for the French presidency against Nicolas Sarkozy. Ms Royal’s presidential ambitions were cited as one of the reasons for the break up. However since 2005, Mr Hollande had been « romantically linked » with Valerie Trierweiler – a journalist on the magazine Paris Match. The couple went public in around 2010, when the gossip magazine « Closer » revealed their « liaison » – this being the same magazine that has just revealed the new affair. After his election in 2012, Ms Trierwieler took up residence with Mr Hollande in the Presidential Palace – she took on the mantle of First Lady, though the French media dubbed her « First Girlfriend » – and now …
Well, when Nicolas Sarkozy became president, he was in the process of divorcing his second wife, Cecilia (who he had previously purloined from a famous French TV presenter) – Though there as no public moral outrage at this state of affairs, Sarkozy was criticised as giving a bad example. However when François Hollande set up home at the presidential palace with his girlfriend, no one said anything. No one seemed to mind an unmarried head of state. No one seemed to care that the unofficial first lady had her own office, staff and security guards all paid for by the taxpayer. Can you imagine this happening in America?
When Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni went public there was palpable public indignation – the « bling bling » president taking up with a former top model turned recording artist who had had affairs with just about everyone in the Rock and Roll industry. Indignation too when Nicolas Sarkozy made an honest woman of Carla – this had never been done. Mind you, that was always the biggest criticism levelled against Sarkozy – that he did nothing like anyone else. We had a sexy first lady with her own life, rather than the traditional model of Presidential wife – a solid but rather frumpy spouse that loitered in the shadows and dedicated her life to supporting her husband whilst the latter governed the country and had a whole series of extra marital affairs. Yes folks, every president has a double life. Jacques Chirac had a whole host of women – this earned him the sobriquet « three minutes including a shower. » François Mitterrand also had a double life – he even fathered a daughter from his illicit union, who was protected (at public expense) and kept from public view until after Mitterrand’s death.
Imagine now that François Hollande breaks up with Valérie Trierweiler and in her place Julie Gayet become the new « First Girlfriend » – Hollande is often accused of imitating Nicolas Sarkozy in his presidential style – well, I suppose when you have no style of your own, it is just as well to adopt someone else’s. Sarko marries a top model and Hollande gets involved with an actress and moves her into the Presidential Palace.
Well if Julie Gayet is our new « first girlfriend » I will certainly have no objection. As « la première dame » she will certainly be a better prospect than the Angry Birds that Mr Hollande has previously been with.
Of course there have been concerns voiced over Mr Hollande’s sexual shenanigans, but none of them of a moral nature. No outraged religious leaders. No cries of anguish from the nation’s moral majority. The concerns have actually been over the President’s personal security – turning up at the dead of night for numerous amorous rendez vous on the back of a scooter, piloted by a presidential bodyguard. Well, it was out of the question for Mr Hollande to use the official presidential limo when discretion was very much the watchword. What would have happened though if Mr Hollande had fallen off or some one had taken a pot shot at him? There are plenty of people out there who don’t like Monsieur H, but probably no one that would actually want to assassinate him.
On this last question of unpopularity, we are all waiting for Mr Hollande to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and get voted out of office at the 2017 Presidential election.
So, if François Hollande is reading this – some advice. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Just out on the RTL website
Ms Trierweiler was admitted to hospital on January 10th, suffering from stress and nervous exhaustion, brought on by aforementioned events. For the moment she is “exhausted” but in good health.