French President Francois Hollande Secret Affair

French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday he is going through “painful moments” in his personal life after a magazine report that he is having a secret affair with an actress. Hollande’s partner, journalist Valerie Trierweiler, has been hospitalized since Friday, when Closer published photos it said proved Hollande’s liaison with Julie Gayet. The report has heaped new pressure on the already unpopular Hollande. He was asked at a major public appearance Tuesday whether Trierweiler remains the first lady. In his first comments since the magazine report, Hollande responded: “Everyone in his or her personal life can go through ordeals _ that’s the case with us.”

The latest revelations call into question whether a complex personal life can be private for someone with round-the-clock bodyguards, and about the role of “first lady” in France. Trierweiler is the first person to hold the post who was not married to the president. Hollande said he will clarify who the first lady is before he takes a presidential trip to the United States on Feb. 11, but he wouldn’t comment further. The pictures published in Closer included one of a man the magazine said was Hollande being ferried by motorcycle to an apartment where Gayet waited.

Twenty years ago, the same photographer, Sebastien Valiela, rocked France’s political establishment with images that revealed the secret family of then-President Francois Mitterrand, showing the Socialist leader emerging from a restaurant with the daughter he had never acknowledged. Hollande, who has four children from a previous relationship with a leading politician, was elected as a “Monsieur Normal” in a backlash against his flamboyant predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. Dominique Moisi, a French political analyst, said Hollande _ who was already the most unpopular president in modern French history before the recent revelations  had brought the scrutiny on himself.

“He wanted to impress the French with the fact that he was a normal man, that he was a man of dignity, simplicity, moral rigor,” he said. “Suddenly the French are discovering that he is like others, but in a less glorious manner, even a ridiculous manner.”


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