Bruni's ex-lover joins Sarkozy's 'kitchen cabinet': report
Even as Carla Bruni has tried to play down the influence she wields over her husband Nicolas Sarkozy, a former lover of the first lady has joined an informal "kitchen cabinet" of the French president, said a news report.
Raphael Enthoven, a philosophy professor and father of Aurelien, Bruni’s seven-year-old son, has become a regular visitor to the Elysee Palace and likes setting the world to rights in intimate gatherings with "Sarko" around the dinner table, The Times newspaper reported.
Enthoven has joined an informal "kitchen cabinet" of left-wing advisers around the French president, it said.
Earlier this month, an outrage had been sparked in France amid media reports that thousands of Bruni's CDs were to be distributed free under a French government initiative to promote exports in times of economic recession.
However, the 41-year-old former Italian supermodel-turned pop singer has tried to play down the influence she wields over her husband.
"I come from a milieu considered as leftwing but I have never been a militant," said Bruni, who married the President after a lightning romance last year.
"I don’t allow myself to give him political advice but rather I offer human advice on what I feel," she was quoted as saying the British daily.
According to sources close to the presidential couple, the 34-year-old Enthoven is one of several left-leaning intellectuals and friends of Bruni to have fallen under the spell of a president once dismissed by the left as a dangerous rightwinger.
Sarkozy, a former champion of liberal economic reforms, has taken to calling himself "a man of the left" with the onset of the global financial crisis.
The French leader has thundered against "the dictatorship of the market". He has pursued a policy of "openness" that included appointing some of the most popular icons of the left as government ministers, the report said.
Bruni has ofter courted controversy with her activist role in politics, as with supporting a wanted "terrorist" from Italy, the country of her birth.
Recently, she fired off a letter to the military rulers in Myanmar in protest at the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader under house arrest.
Many believe France has still not digested the initial "bling bling" phase, symbolised by Sarkozy's whirlwind romance with the Italian heiress.
A leading commentator described her as "Carla-Antoinette", comparing her to the French queen Marie Antoinette who was constantly spoiled by her husband, Louis XVI.
According to critic Gerald Andrieu, it would not be long before Bruni was used to assist other French industries, including fashion.
"We wait with impatience the promotional week of haute couture. For Carla-Antoinette of Italy, it will perhaps be the occasion for her to get rid of her old dresses which she doesn't want anymore," he wrote in the highbrow political weekly Marianne.