France

Trierweiler tweet continues to shake things up

Reuters/Olivier Douliery/Pool

With just days before France’s parliamentary elections, President François Hollande is caught up in his first political storm, after an incendiary tweet sent by partner Valérie Trierweiler to Ségolène Royale’s opponent on Tuesday. The right-wing opposition is hoping to capitalise on the tweet dubbed “embarrassing” by the French press.

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French daily Libération, called it “France’s First Gaffe,” while Le Figaro said the tweet would have “heavy consequences.”

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that Trierweiler needed to learn discretion in her new role as first lady of France, but accused the right wing of exploiting the situation to their benefit, ahead of Sunday’s second round of parliamentary elections.

The UMP’s Eric Ciotti told France Inter radio that the incident had made a mockery of the country and that the whole situation was “grotesque” and “ridiculous.”

UMP leader Jean-François Copé said the comment didn’t deserve his attention, in light of more important matters, such as the EU debt crisis.

"You realise that there is a major parliamentary election taking place during a crisis -- hold on!" he said, on France 2 television. "Italy is practically bankrupt, Spain has a 100-billion euro bailout for its banks, there is a crisis that Francois Hollande is not talking about -- and we are asked to comment on something that is, I'm sorry, not up to the standard."

Others are calling for clearer legislation as to the role of first lady, which has no official definition under the French constitution.

The controversial tweet may or may not win Royale votes on Sunday, in a race against fellow Socialist Olivier Falorni that appears tight. An Ifop poll out on Monday and Tuesday predicted Royale would claim just 42 percent of votes, compared to Falorni’s 58 percent, in the second round.

In the end, it was Trierweiler’s face that lined the front pages of French papers on Wednesday, one day after she wished La Rochelle’s candidate Olivier Falorni good luck in Sunday’s elections, via Twitter. Falorni stands against Royale, Hollande’s former partner and the candidate he has already publicly backed in the second round.

The incident puts into question once again the rivalry between the two women. Hollande has reportedly been in a relationship with Trierweiler since 2005, while standing beside Royale during her 2007 presidential bid against Nicolas Sarkozy. Royale was the longtime partner of Hollande and is the mother of his four children.

 

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