First lady Trierweiler hospitalized ‘for a rest’

AFP-JIJI

Valerie Trierweiler, the partner of French President Francois Hollande, was hospitalized after he was reported to be having an affair with an actress, officials said Sunday.

Aides to the first lady said she had been admitted on Friday “for a rest and to undergo some tests” and was expected to leave the hospital on Monday.

Closer magazine reported in its edition published Friday that Hollande, 59, has been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet, 41.

The Socialist leader has slammed Closer’s report as an outrageous attack on his right to a private life and said he is considering legal action.

But he has not denied the substance of the magazine’s claims about a passionate affair that pushed him and Gayet to take “insane risks.”

Trierweiler, 48, is a glamorous, twice-divorced career journalist who has three children of her own and has been Hollande’s partner for the best part of a decade.

Exactly when they became a couple is unclear, but most accounts of his turbulent love life concur that he left Segolene Royal, a fellow heavyweight in the Socialist Party and the mother of his four children, in 2005.

In public he was still pretending to be with Royal two years later when she ran unsuccessfully as the Socialists’ presidential candidate.

The latest revelations about Hollande have been gleefully seized upon by the media in Britain, where the portly and balding president’s apparent ability to have numerous beautiful women competing for his attention has long been a subject of fascination and derision.

But in France, the media response was largely restricted to low-key factual accounts of what Closer had reported.

Voters, too, appear to be unfazed by the revelations. A poll published by Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) found that 77 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that the alleged affair with Gayet was a private affair that was nobody else’s business.

Pollsters also say the suggestion that Hollande may have been cheating on his long-term partner is unlikely to have any impact on his standing with the electorate.

“In fact he is already so unpopular that this will not change anything,” Frederic Dabi of pollsters Ifop told the JDD.

Hollande is due to give an extended news conference on Tuesday at which he is expected to elaborate on a New Year’s message that has been interpreted as signaling a change of direction by his government toward more business-friendly policies. That event now looks certain to be overshadowed by the turmoil in his private life.

Trierweiler has endured a torrid time since entering the Elysee alongside Hollande in the summer of 2012. At the time, she boldly declared that she intended to redefine the role of first lady to the point that they would have to come up with an alternative term.

An appearance in spiky high heels and a thigh-revealing dress prompted Britain’s Daily Mail to exclaim that she was the real star attraction in the couple, the epitome of the “effortless Parisian chic that makes French women the envy of the world.”

Within a few weeks, however, Trierweiler’s feisty temperament had gotten her into hot water. Reportedly enraged by Hollande’s support for Royal, she sent out a tweet backing a renegade Socialist candidate who was up against her lover’s ex in a battle for a parliamentary seat.

The rebel won and Trierweiler was publicly rebuked by Hollande, while his four children reportedly stopped talking to her.

A string of articles and books have portrayed the journalist as a tempestuous, jealous personality who keeps Hollande on a tight leash, and polls have suggested two-thirds of voters have a negative opinion of her.