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PRAGUE — Can a public figure have a private life? Recent events in three countries have highlighted the importance of this question.

In the French presidential election, both candidates tried to keep their domestic life separate from their campaign. Segolene Royal is not married to Francois Hollande, the father of her four children. When asked whether they were a couple, Royal replied, “Our lives belong to us.” Similarly, in response to rumors that President-elect Nicholas Sarkozy’s wife had left him, a spokesman for Sarkozy said, “That’s a private matter.”

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