On May 2nd, between the first and second rounds of the presidential elections, Francois Hollande’s partner, Valerie Trierweiler gave an interview to the women’s magazine, Femme Actuelle. A smiling head shot of the future premiere Dame de France illustrates the piece and confirms her photogenicity and her radiant status as a woman in love. With hindsight is is possible to discern, between the lines of this apparently innocuous interview, the somewhat pathological mindset that will lead to Trieweiler’s recent disgrace. For that is how her ‘tweet‘ in support of Olivier Falorni, Segolene Royal’s rival for the parliamentary seat in La Rochelle, has been widely received; as a disgrace and an outrage to the political process. In the aftermath of the tweet an anonymous source at the Elysees Palace confided to Le Monde journalist, Thomas Wieder: “I’m stunned. I expected to have to deal with governmental, not conjugal crises.”
In the Femme Actuelle interview Trierweiler “confides” that Francois Hollande has complete faith in her, “except for my tweets!” she adds. “Some would prefer me not to respond so frequently on this social network, but everyone respects my freedom. I have a strong character and I won’t be reined in.”
It’s all here, isn’t it? The familiar invocation of the heady word ‘freedom’ and of course ‘the strong character’ to justify bad behaviour. As if the French public is still just as in thrall as it ever was to the myths and excuses of LURVE. The problem is, that particular bubble has burst. DSK did it in New York with his unbridled phallus. For years, under cover of expressions like l’homme a femme (ladies man) or chaud lapin (no satisfactory translation available) he managed to get away with being quite simply out of control with women. The way the Valerie Trierweiler tweet has landed is a further demonstration that public opinion in France has shifted. Love can no longer serve as a viable defense for hysterical and obsessive behaviour, for however vehemently Trierweiler denies that the tweet was triggered by jealousy of her boyfriend’s ex, no one is fooled. Her rivalry with Royal has been widely documented. As Elise Karlin, journalist at L’Express puts it in her article entitled ‘Valerie Trierweiler: The Ministry of Envy,’ “Nothing can explain taking this public position except the outrageous and irrational jealousy of a woman towards the person who came before her in her man’s heart,” a jealousy that, according to one of Hollande’s close supporters, polluted the entire Presidential campaign.
Six weeks after her interview with Femme Actuelle, Trierweiler goes on to Twitter and her hand shoots out. In pressing “enter” she not only compromises her own credibility by breaking her promise of political neutrality, she also publicly contradicts the President who has already given, however reluctantly, his support for Royal’s candidacy in La Rochelle. Later in the interview she says, “I would not allow myself to offer him my opinion on the nomination of one or other candidate…At his side I am quite simply his woman, like any woman in love.”
Trierweiler goes on, not for the first time, to boast her discretion: “People come up to me (at political meetings) and thank me or congratulate me for my discretion. They say I have the right attitude, of one who is there but in the background…” She often describes herself as ‘shy’ and ‘private’ but she also likes to trumpet her love for Hollande from the rooftops. She demanded that he kiss her on the lips in public to mark his commitment to her, insisted, even during the height of the presidential campaign that his evenings be kept free for time together, and on the night of his victory organised, without telling him, for their song to be played on the podium: Edith Piaf’s highly romantic La Vie en Rose.
I can have sympathy for Trierweiler’s feelings. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Or at least I have. The mad, needy, utterly unreasonable behaviour that can often come with loving someone. In some ways you have to take your hat off to her for the sheer lunacy of her behaviour. She is playing out for all to see the agonizing paradox of the love state, the soi-disant independent woman utterly enslaved to the object of her affection. It’s just a pity for her that this particular archetype has lost its kudos, even in France.