France's first lady deals blow to president's ex

Valerie Trierweiler posted an apparently innocent message on Twitter wishing a relatively unknown politician good luck in his bid to win a seat in the National Assembly in Sunday’s second round parliamentary vote.

But the tweet stunned France as it was clear that the real target was Segolene Royal, the woman who shared President Francois Hollande’s life for three decades and is the mother of their four children.

Reports of rivalry between the two women led to speculation, which Trierweiler denies, that the current first lady had Royal airbrushed out of a film screened to Socialist faithful at Hollande’s January campaign launch.

Royal, who failed in 2007 to get herself elected president, is standing against Olivier Falorni, a Socialist dissident, for a parliamentary seat for the western town of La Rochelle.

Hollande has publicly thrown his weight behind Royal, writing this week that she is “the only candidate of the presidential majority who can be assured of my support”.

Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry travelled on Tuesday to La Rochelle to show her backing for Royal, declaring that she had the unwavering support of the entire party, which is tipped to win a majority of seats in Sunday’s vote.

But just as she made that ringing endorsement, Trierweiler delivered her blow on the micro-blogging site: “Good luck to Olivier Falorni who has done nothing worthy of blame, who has fought alongside the people of La Rochelle for so many years with selfless commitment.”

Royal, who is hoping to become parliamentary speaker if elected, declined to react to the taunt, saying only that “all my spirit, all my energy, all my thoughts are for the voters” of La Rochelle.

When asked about the tweet, Aubry said that all that mattered was that Hollande had backed Royal.

But Trierweiler’s message caused dismay in the Socialist party and sparked derision from right-wing opponents.

Eric Ciotti, of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party, declared that “vaudeville has come to the Elysee” presidential palace, while another UMP politician said “it’s ‘Dallas at the Elysee”, referring to the steamy US soap opera.

Socialist deputy Jean-Louis Bianco said he found Trierweiler’s tweet “purely and simply disgraceful”. - Sapa-AFP


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