Just days before the second round of France’s parliamentary elections, a controversy has erupted that threatens to embarrass President Francois Hollande, whose Socialist Party is expected to coast to victory and gain a majority in the National Assembly.
Hollande’s new problems arises from his complicated personal life – his current “significant other” Valerie Trierweiler (whom he has not married) supports a Socialist politician named Olivier Falorni for the parliamentary seat in La Rochelle, in western France.
Hollande backs a woman named Segolene Royal.
What makes this imbroglio particularly interesting is that Royal is Hollande’s former longtime lover and the mother of his four children. Indeed, Royal is the woman Hollande left for Trierweiler.
Ségolène Royal is the only candidate of the presidential majority who can be assured of my support, Hollande said.
Royal, who lost the French presidential election in 2007 to Nicolas Sarkozy, won 32 percent of the vote for the parliamentary seat in La Rochelle during Sunday’s first-round election, to 29 percent for Falorni (who has rejected demands by the party to give up the contest).
Following the result, on her Twitter account, Trierweiler wrote: Good luck to Olivier Falorni who has done nothing worthy of blame, who has fought alongside the people of La Rochelle for so many years with selfless commitment.
Now, with Trierweiler's backing, Falorni may gather enough momentum to defeat Royal in the second and decisive round of voting. If he succeeds, Trierweiler will likely have removed Royal from any government seat in Hollande’s administration.
Trierweiler is reportedly extremely jealous of Royal and was particularly incensed by Hollande’s promise to give his ex-lover the prestigious job of president of the National Assembly in the event she wins the parliamentary seat.
Bruno Jeudi, editor of Le Journal du Dimanche, said: There is enormous jealousy between the [two women]. They're like two tigresses. [If Royal is elected to parliament, she] will have frequent contact with François Hollande, a prospect that Trierweiler wants to stop at all costs.”
While Royal did not directly respond to Trierweiler's tweet, other Socialists condemned the president’s first lady.
We didn't elect Valérie Trierweiler, we elected François Hollande. So I ask, what's she playing at? I find it purely and simply disgraceful, said MP Jean-Louis Bianco.
Meanwhile, Hollande’s rivals in the center-right UMP party are reacting with glee over this entertaining bit of intrigue and catfight among the Socialists.
As of this morning, (Hollande's) 'normal' presidency is well and truly dead. From now on it's Dallas at the Elysée, said Geoffrey Didier, the UMP's national secretary, in a reference to the popular U.S. television soap opera.