Keeping private affairs of politicians out of the public domain was a tradition the French were proud of, but it seems to be in tatters now.
“Is Valerie Triewieler still the First Lady of France?” – this was the very first question at the much awaited press conference at the Elysee palace and it came from the journalist of a conservative French newspaper.
Hollande trying hard not to flinch replied, “Anyone can go through trials in their personal life and that’s our case right now. These are painful moments…. Private matters should be dealt with in private and this is neither the time nor the place to do it”.
A rumble of disappointment echoed in the ornate conference hall of the Presidential palace packed with 600 journalists.
Can the private life of a head of state really remain private? A recent poll (IFOP) showed 77% French people felt Hollande’s private life is his own business and a whopping 84% said the revelations will have no effect on Hollande’s image.
Given that France has no official status for a First Lady, it should ideally make things easier for the President.
“In France, we don’t have a First Lady. We have a First Girlfriend. Now it seems we have a Second Girlfriend too. Oh so French!” says Ingrid Therwath, South Asia editor of news journal Courrier International.