News / Europe

French 'First Partner' Stirs Debate About Role of First Ladies

France's President Francois Hollande, right, and his companion Valerie Trierweiler take part in a march as part of a ceremony in tribute to the memory of Nazi victims in Tulle, southwestern France, June 9, 2012.
France's President Francois Hollande, right, and his companion Valerie Trierweiler take part in a march as part of a ceremony in tribute to the memory of Nazi victims in Tulle, southwestern France, June 9, 2012.
Lisa Bryant
PARIS - Journalist Valerie Trierweiler has upended French traditions by being a career-oriented, unmarried "first partner" to newly elected President Francois Hollande. Trierweiler is causing another stir with a controversial Twitter post that is sparking debate about the place and duties of first ladies of France.

Valerie Trierweiler's "tweet" of support to a legislative candidate is stirring controversy in France; first, because of her role as the partner of President Francois Hollande and a prominent journalist. But it is also because the politician she is backing is running against Hollande's former partner and mother of his four children, Segolene Royale.

Not surprisingly, Trierweiler's remarks are providing political fodder for the rival conservative UMP party, which is trying to beat back a leftist sweep in the parliamentary runoff vote next Sunday.

In a television interview Wednesday, former UMP minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet criticized Trieweiler for mixing personal and political issues. Also confusing, she says, is Treiweiler's status as both journalist and first lady.

Many voters are also critical.

One woman speaking on French radio said Trieweiler should not meddle in political life, a sentiment echoed by other voters.

As an unmarried "first partner," Trieweiler is a novelty in France. She considers the first lady concept outmoded, and is continuing to work as a journalist.

But analyst Bruno Cautres says most French do not care about her private life.

"They care about what the president is going to do to cope with the economic crisis, to cope with unemployment, with the budget deficit, but they would not accept that the wife, that the partner of the president intervenes in public life," said Cautres.

Recent French first ladies have also been strong and independent. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy's wife, Carla Bruni Sarkozy, carried on her musical career during his presidency. Bernadette Chirac, the wife of former president Jacques Chirac, was a local politician. Danielle Mitterrand, wife of longtime leader Francois Mitterrand, was a well-known activist.

"It is clear that the wives or the partners of the French president are evolving - like French women, broadly speaking," said Cautres.

President Hollande is supporting the candidacy of his former partner, Segolene Royale, who may become the first female president of the National Assembly if she wins the runoff.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid