All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Monday, 18 June 2012

The President's Addendum.

François HollandeFrançois Hollande (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
French presidents appear to consider their female helpmeet in the same light as that in which  Aneurin Bevan regarded posession of a British nuclear bomb...without one, they go naked into the conference chamber.

In recent times  it doesn't seem as if it matters that the helpmeet herself has gone naked in any number of chambers....the circulation of photographs of the third Mme. Sarkozy dispensing with garments is here claimed in aid.....just as long as the President of France has something female and preferably human to follow him down the steps of the 'plane when taking his 'mission civilisatrice' abroad.

In the past, Presidents had wives fairly was what you did, part of your CV ....and everyone, including the wives, averted their eyes from the presence, the existence even, of mistresses, so the problem of being a President without an addendum did not arise until the election to office of Mr. Sarkozy.

He started out conventionally enough....he had a wife, the second Mrs. Sarkozy, even if she was reluctant to play the addendum role and preferred going shopping to meeting President Bush the second.
Who wouldn't.
Unfortunately, she turned out to be a bolter, and - worse - bolted with an American lover.

Panic in the dovecotes. The President was wearing horns. Something had to be done.


Because of the macho nature of the French elite where, while women are regarded as nothing more than social currency,  it doesn't do to be bankrupt.

No addendum...and doubt arises as to the rest of your credentials.
Especially if you are the President  - the incarnation of the powerful French male.

The President's friends rallied round and came up with a lady resting between engagements who would resolve the problem.

Carla Bruni.
The self styled man eater, with the scalps to prove it. No man - if he had any money - was safe.

Who better to restore the image of the President!
There could be no doubts as to the credentials of a man with Carla Bruni as his addendum.

And so it proved.
President Sarkozy married Carla Bruni and was able to hold his own, fully clothed,  in the conference chamber.
The lady might have had a somewhat interesting past....but she was Mme. Sarkozy and that was all that mattered.

And now we come to the addendum of the new President of France, Mr. Hollande.
Now you see it, now you don't.

Mr. Hollande is not married. Has never been married.
But he has had two long standing relationships with women.
Which overlapped somewhat.

The current ladyfriend has asserted her right to carry on with her journalistic career.
 She does not wish to be a symbol.
She has a family to feed.
She needs to work.
She can't afford to be just a figurehead for French fashion...indeed, she makes a point of how she buys from (upmarket) high street stores.
A small voice off notes that she is still married to the father of her children, who works for the same gossip rag and that he must surely be paying something toward the maintenance of his offspring, but that might spoil the story.

But what is Mr. Hollande to do?
Clearly not keen on marriage with the first lady of his choice with whom he produced four children he cannot marry the second lady even if he wished to do so...
Presidents of France are immune from prosecution during their term of office, but bigamy is still on the statute books and immunity ends a month after one ceases to be Mr. Sarkozy is discovering.

 Ideas of cake and eating it rise to mind.

But the lady in question is exercising her right to be independent.
She is tweeting against the mother of Mr. Hollande's children who is attempting to  win a seat in the National Assembly.

Wonderful idea ...independence....

But how do you assess it when the independent lady accompanies Mr. Hollande, President of France, to a political pow wow in America  - wearing the French designer clothes she previously scorned?

Is it the journalist or the jealous woman who treats the Sarkozys with scorn and the woman she replaced with hatred?

And how will Mr.Holland  be judged....

Naked or clothed in the conference chamber?

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  1. Australian politics is so boring! Yes, there is a little sheet-shuffling from time to time, but it never sounds or reads as entertaining as le style francais.

    1. It's also interesting as the journalists - obliged to be supportive of Hollande during the election campaign - have compensated by letting themselves go on the subject of his girlfriend.

  2. Did the Tweeted Power-play come from her, or was it revenge (best eaten cold n'est ce pas?) for Mme Royale's usurpation of the political crown in the last go-around? This Emperor certainly has no new clothes, in my not so humble opinion.

    1. I reckon that Hollande - a nasty piece of work if ever there was one - wouldn't be displeased to see Royale out of the National long as his fingerprints weren't on the knife.

    2. I can't vouch for the nasty piece of work bit, but the second bit rings very true.

      I think that FH wanted two things: to be president of France, and vengeance.

  3. Hello:
    You have certainly stripped this particular dilemma if not entirely naked, then very close to the bare bones. Such a very witty and also most revealing [no pun intended here] post which concerns itself both with the role of a female spouse and or partner, should she find herself projected, in the way in which you describe, into the limelight which calls itself public office, and of course with the needs of the male who finds himself President, or similarly titled leader. Much food for thought here. We recall Mr. Heath side stepping the whole issue! But he did have a piano!

    1. Much to be said for the power of music.....but British society doesn't have the same hangups about sex and power as France.

  4. Tis a poor state of affairs when women are served as a side-dish to idiocy.

    1. Yes, this is the much vaunted sophisticated French society for you...

  5. I had no idea she was still married, all I heard was the sad sack "I have hungry mouths to feed" story.

    The politics in France are so different than the US! Her being married would be one of the first things that came out.

    1. Hi, Emily...super blog!

      Bit like a vulture claiming the sympathy vote...

  6. Ah, thanks so much :)

    Olivier Falorni - the founder of Hollande's support committee and supposedly the person who lent Hollande and Valérie Trierweiler his apartment for their rendez-vous - is apparently being booted because Hollande's baby mama wants his spot so she can get into Parliment.

    But it still seems pretty catty, and an unnecessary turn of the knife already embedded in Royale's back, to tweet (of all things) in support of her rival.

    It's like the Jennifer Aniston/Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt drama in France.

  7. Greatest crime in french society...getting caught doing the dirty.
    It's all right to do it...just don't get caught!

  8. Well, our Sego is out, and I bet the Rottweiler is wetting her knickers with joy.

    The PS did very well in the elections but I hope they realise that they are now totally responsible for whatever happens next. They can't blame anything on the crisis because Hollande refused to accept that as an excuse for Sarkozy's woes, so we are all expecting miracles (haha).

    My DB reckons that Hollande prefers to live in the flat instead of the Elysée palace because if things go pear-shaped with the R he can just decamp to the Elysée and leave her to stew in her own juice. It would be awkward chucking her out of the door of the palace...

    1. Just waiting for the tax increases....

      Your DB may well be right...easy to stalk out with hauteur from someone else's flat, not so easy to get the bailiffs in to the Elysee to remove an encumbrance...especially in the winter months!

  9. Ah, French politics...where what is happening off-piste is always just as intriguing and interesting as the politics itself! Meanwhile, outre-manche, the best we could manage was forcing Milliband up the aisle.

  10. Well Royale is out so I suspect there will be an outpouring of crocodile tears.
    Instead of the flat why not decamp to Chambord? It has a most useful staircase!! [plus ca change.....]

    1. The only problem being that one might not meet...but one could still see....

  11. Wonder why it all has to be such a soap opera.....suppose that is the way life is these days.

  12. FH should be grateful that he does not have to explain his shenanigans to the Leveson inquiry.

  13. Blogger is excelling itself...I can't reply to comments...except here.


    Mark in Mayenne, I agree absolutely. He's the man whose fingerprints are never on the gun.

    Jenny Woolf, thanks to the Sarkozy years, the French press are discovering the delights of 'baring all' - when their proprietors let them.

    Cheshire wife, I would love to hear that!

    Trisha, miserable, unprofessional mixture of politics and old scores.

  14. I suppose all this is of interest to the boulevard press (does it still exist?) but, personally, I'd hate to be the object of everybody's ridicule. People in the public eye are fair game, and the lady on the arm of the president (metaphorically speaking) is therefore fair game too.

    Sisters, show your (back-biting) teeth!

    PS: I am actually not really au fait with Hollande's love life, so may be whistling the wrong tune.

  15. Well, until recently this would just have been whispered about among the elite, but Sarkozy's term of office made journalists more confident about 'revelations' that would otherwise have been buried in the silence surrounding the private lives of the great if not good.
    The Strauss-Kahn business was another factor in this change in french journalism.

    The question raised by the infamous tweet is relevant...interfering publicly in politics indicates that Hollande does not wear the trousers....and that undermines his credibility in macho France.

    Hollande's love life would make your hair curl, but it's all in line with accepted behaviour by the elite...they probably have classes in it at ENA.

  16. Fly, this acutely observed post makes me realise why it will be a very long time before there is a woman with real political power at the centre in France. Can you imagine a French man being willing to be an addendum?

  17. LOL, Fly! I'd forgotten all about her ingloriously short prime ministerial career, but a judicious bit of googling has reminded me that she was in the very best tradition of French politicians. :-)