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Party members rue Sarkozy romance

world Updated: Jan 13, 2008 02:57 IST

President Nicolas Sarkozy's highly-publicised romance with ex-model Carla Bruni is unsettling members of his right wing party who fear a backlash from their conservative supporters as local elections loom.



Three months after his divorce from second wife Cecilia, Sarkozy this week revealed that his relationship with the 40-year-old Italian pop singer was serious and all but confirmed they were engaged.



With municipal elections in March shaping up as the first test of Sarkozy's popularity since taking office, party members are showing signs of unease over the blanket coverage of their leader and his new girlfriend in the celebrity press.



Few Sarkozy supporters are willing to openly vent their opinions, but several say privately they are "gutted", "furious" or "at a loss" over the president's celebrity exposure.



"All of these headlines in Voici, Gala...It doesn't sit well with the right wing electorate," commented a minister, naming two big-selling celebrity magazines.



"I have heard a colleague say 'my mother won't vote for him any more'," said a deputy in the governing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party.



Journalists overheard a senior member in the corridors of the National Assembly discuss at length the striking resemblance between 40-year-old Bruni and 50-year-old Cecilia, before concluding that this was worrisome.