News / Europe

Ex-First Lady Accuses France's Hollande of Anti-poor Jibe

FILE - Valerie Trierweiler, former-companion of French President Francois Hollande visits a primary school in Creteil near Paris.
FILE - Valerie Trierweiler, former-companion of French President Francois Hollande visits a primary school in Creteil near Paris.
Reuters

French President Francois Hollande's image took a new knock on Thursday with publication of a tell-all book in which ex-partner Valerie Trierweiler accused the Socialist leader of dismissively describing the poor as “the toothless.”

Hollande ended his seven-year relationship with Trierweiler after his affair with an actress was revealed in January. The 49-year-old journalist vowed at the time that, breaking with a French tradition of maintaining discretion over private lives in politics, she would not keep quiet.

The book of French President former partner Valerie Trierweiler entitled "Merci pour ce moment" (Thanks you for this moment) some hours after its release in a Montpellier bookstore, Sept. 4, 2014.The book of French President former partner Valerie Trierweiler entitled "Merci pour ce moment" (Thanks you for this moment) some hours after its release in a Montpellier bookstore, Sept. 4, 2014.
x
The book of French President former partner Valerie Trierweiler entitled "Merci pour ce moment" (Thanks you for this moment) some hours after its release in a Montpellier bookstore, Sept. 4, 2014.
The book of French President former partner Valerie Trierweiler entitled "Merci pour ce moment" (Thanks you for this moment) some hours after its release in a Montpellier bookstore, Sept. 4, 2014.

The 320-page book is laced with unflattering references to Hollande as cold or callous. But the charge that he ridiculed the poor was the one that sparked most media debate given his efforts to portray himself as aware of the plight of the needy.

“He presented himself as a man who disliked the rich,” Trierweiler, a journalist with glossy magazine Paris Match, wrote of Hollande's successful 2012 election campaign.

“In reality, the president doesn't like the poor. In private, this man - the left-winger - calls them 'the toothless' and is so pleased at how funny he is.”

Hollande's Elysee Palace has refused to comment on the book. But, in an unexpected turn, it was Segolene Royal, the mother of Hollande's four children and the woman he left for Trierweiler, who sprang to his defense.

“This is the opposite of what he stands for,” Royal, herself a former presidential candidate who is now his energy minister,  told RMC radio, calling the accusation “total nonsense.”

When he won power in 2012, Hollande, 60, marketed himself as a “Mr. Normal” president whose car would stop at red traffic lights like everyone else's and said he would shun the bling-bling ostentation of conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

While he this year took a more centrist course, he still insists that social justice is at the core of his government's policies. Yet with the economy stuck in a rut and unemployment running at around 10 percent, his popularity rating has sunk to the lowest of any post-war leader at just 16 percent.

RTL radio commentator Alba Ventura said that, true or not, Trierweiler's attacks risked being “devastating” for what left of Hollande's public credibility.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the resurgent far-right National Front, accused Hollande and his former partner of sullying the authority of the role of president in the eyes of the public.

FILE - French President Francois Hollande (L) and his former-companion Valerie Trierweiler arrive for a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris.FILE - French President Francois Hollande (L) and his former-companion Valerie Trierweiler arrive for a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
x
FILE - French President Francois Hollande (L) and his former-companion Valerie Trierweiler arrive for a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
FILE - French President Francois Hollande (L) and his former-companion Valerie Trierweiler arrive for a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Trierweiler lived with Hollande at the Elysee presidential palace for a year and a half until a gossip magazine exposed his secret relationship with actress Julie Gayet, 42, in January.

In her book, titled “Thank You For This Moment”, Trierweiler speaks of Hollande's coldness and mean-spirited stabs, and also says he attempted for months after the breakup to win her back, sending as many as 29 text messages in a day.

Hollande has shunned calls from some in his own party who believe his deficit-reduction strategy is being conducted at the expense of the economy and the needy, recently reshuffling his government to oust more hardline left-wingers.

His prime minister, Manual Valls, has called a confidence vote in parliament for September 16, where the scale of dissent within the ruling party - for now confined to a minority group of hardline leftists - may become clearer.  

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid