Paris: It's full blown war between the two women who clearly have been the most important in the private life of the French President. And it all started with a tweet.
Valerie Trierweiler always liked brazen tweets. You get the sense that there's some lava bubbling behind each of them. But this one tweet will not be forgotten for a while. On Tuesday, Trierweiler tweeted her support to Segolene Royal's political opponent, four days ahead of the second and final round of legislative elections. "Courage to Olivier Falorni who has done nothing he can be blamed for, who has fought selflessly alongside the people of La Rochelle for so many years" (translated from original tweet in french by @Valtrier). This explosive tweet raised a massive storm in the French media for what was clearly an attempt by the President's current partner to ruin his ex-partner's chances against her rival. Some thought at first that Trierweiler's account was hacked - surely she couldn't have made such a big gaffe - but Trierweiler confirmed with total sangfroid to the French media, that she was indeed the author of this tweet.
Segolene Royal's future hangs by a thread as she had managed to barely scrape ahead of Olivier Falorni, the Socialist dissident for whom Ms Trierweiler had only good things to say. (Royal: 32% Falorni: 29% votes). The second and final round of votes will be cast on Sunday. After keeping a deathly silence for a day, Segolene Royal hit back during a rally speech today saying "I didn't want to react yesterday because the attack was too violent, it doesn't mean am not bruised, am not a robot".
Not so dignified really, for either of the women to be seen in a public catfight in what is clearly personal rivalry. And it's even worse for President Hollande who has always maintained he'd like to keep his private life out of the public eye. Predecessors at the Elysee Palace, Sarkozy and Carla, had burnt fingers after they made their private affair public - something the French never forgave them for. Making private life public when you are in office, is seen as demeaning and indecent in France. So the Trierweiler-Royal catfight is likely to make a permanent dent in the reputation of the first couple.
Segolene Royal it seems is the only candidate of the Socialist Party who has formally had President Hollande's support during the legislative election. Her campaign leaflets quote him, the father of her four children, as praising her. A French news channel reported that Trierweiler had not been informed about Hollande's decision to back Royal. When she got to know, she is supposed to have told Hollande on the phone "you'll see what am capable of" and exploded in a tweet an hour later. Whether these reports are accurate or not, Trierweiler hasn't waivered since. The tweet is still there on her twitter timeline. President Hollande has refused to react. But he must be fuming.
Here's why Valerie Trierweiler is likely to be branded as the jealous manipulatrice. President Francois Hollande's ex-partner Segolene Royal, with whom he lived for 30 years and also has four children with, is going through a delicate crisis. She was the Presidential candidate of the socialist party five years ago and suffered defeat at the hands of Nicolas Sarkozy, following which, she also lost the party's leading post to Martine Aubry - another senior member of the Socialist Party. For this year's presidentials - she did very badly during the party's election of its candidate. She nevertheless backed Hollande's candidature. Her last and only hope now is to win the legislative elections on Sunday and then go on to become the President of the French National Assembly. If she loses- Ms Trierweiler will have helped her reach her political demise, if she wins - she'll surely stick around to fight more wars with the first lady.
Valerie Trierweiler's social media outburst was condemned by the senior leader of the party Martine Aubry who said Trierweiler should be "more discreet". Even Hollande's Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault said "The companion of the President should have a discreet role". Valerie Trierweiler had been very quiet during Mr. Hollande's election campaign even though always by his side. She's been talking in the media about how she wants to find a new term to replace the title of "first lady". Given that her profession as a journalist has taught her to air her opinions out loud and clear on the frontline and her current status as the French "premiere dame" requires her to just shut up and lurk in the shadows - Trierweiler is likely to undergo a lot of turmoil before she comes up with any workable definition for her new role.
Story first published:
June 14, 2012 16:42 IST