One does not choose first ladies
France’s two presidential candidates, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, have been on the front pages of French newspapers and on TV screens for 2 weeks. Their political programmes have been scrutinized while little has been said about their personal life. When France’s presidential campaign kicked off, the local mass media stressed that Carla Bruni and Valerie Trierveiler would play a very important role in the life of Sarcozy and Hollande. The moral portrait of presidential candidates is of great importance too.
We know that the surprising details about the personal life of one of the presidential candidates crushed his political ambitions a long time ago. The career of the main Socialist Party candidate, Domenique Strauss-Kahn, was destroyed by a maid of one of the New York hotels while it is very doubtful that Nicolas Sarkozy or Francois Hollande could find themselves in a similar situation. There are more chances to tarnish the reputation of a president or that of a presidential candidate by compromising his (her) companion.
Both Sarkozy and Hollande have taken up defensive positions. Several years ago both of them started new families. After wining the 2007 presidential elections during which he projected the image of a devoted family man, Sarkozy announced that was divorcing his second wife Cecilia. Several months later Carla Bruni, a former model, singer and actress, became France’s First Lady.
And as regards Francois Hollande, he is not in a hurry to get married. In the late 1970s he began dating Segolen Royal. They both worked in the government and built their careers in the Socialist Party. They had 4 children in the 25 years they lived as common law spouses.5 years ago, that is in 2007, Segolen Royal was put forward as a candidate from the Socialist Party. Today Segolen Royal is Hollande’s comrade-in-arms. She was the first to congratulate her former common law husband on his victory in the party primaries. Valerie Trierveiler was also happy for him. A correspondent for the “Paris Match” magazine, she has been with him for several years now. If he wins, Hollande could become the second president after Sarkozy to get married during presidency.
As it has turned out, many people are indifferent to the matrimonial status of the Socialist presidential candidate. And as regards the personal life of Sarcozy, the situation is different. The photos relating to the “wild years” of Carla Bruni’s youth regularly appear on the Internet. Last year Bruni found herself at the centre of a scandal around the allegations that her AIDS charity had paid money to one of her close friends. During presidential elections any event can be used in favour of or against a president. But the fact that Carla Bruni gave birth to a baby, Julia, softened the hearts of French citizens for some time.
Sarkozy likes to show off. Carla Bruni knows very well that Paris is the fashion capital of the world, and her position of France’s First Lady makes it incumbent upon her, at the very least to justify the generally accepted opinion that French women are as glamorous now as they have always been.
For the time being Valerie Trierveiler is better known in professional circles. By the way, not only journalists say that Hollande has a strong influence on Hollande. People say that before the latest election campaign Valerie persuaded Francois Hollande to lose weight. She edits all his speeches.
So an actress or a journalist? One day before the elections the people in France are saying: “This does not matter – as long as the president is OK”.