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France’s Socialist Dream Couple Get “Divorce”

From those ever-so sophisticated boulevardiers at the New York Times:

French Socialists’ First Couple Disclose a Parting of Ways


PARIS, June 18 — A day after President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative party captured a smaller majority in Parliament than expected, France’s Socialist Party was struggling to adjust to the awkward reality that its first couple — Ségolène Royal and François Hollande — had split up.

The disclosure, made just hours after the polls closed Sunday night, threatens to complicate efforts by the Socialist Party to close ranks and serve as a counterweight to the powerful and well-disciplined machine of Mr. Sarkozy’s new government.

“It’s as if the parents have gotten divorced and now have to decide who’s going to run the family and look after the children,” said Stéphane Rozès, a director of the CSA polling institute…

The popular tabloid newspaper Le Parisien devoted its front page to their saga, with a photo of the glum-looking pair under the banner headline “The Rupture.” …

But there seemed to be as much attention on the private lives of the Socialist Party’s power couple as on reasons for the electoral outcome.

Ms. Royal, 53, the defeated Socialist candidate for president, and Mr. Hollande, 52, the father of their four children and head of the Socialist Party, used the French news media on Monday to separately spin their stories.

In traditional French political style, Mr. Hollande called the separation a private affair.

“I always have been careful to separate politics, which must have principles, rules and foundations, from private life, which must be protected,” he told France Info radio, adding that the separation “will not have political consequences.”

By contrast, Ms. Royal portrayed herself as a scorned woman who needed to take charge of her destiny. “I have asked François to live his life his way, and he accepted,” Ms. Royal told France Inter radio in an interview taped Saturday. “This is a separation of fact: we no longer live in the same home.”

Not one to hide her ambition, she said that the separation from her partner of nearly three decades now allows her to pursue her own bid for leadership of the party. “I believe we have reached a new stage,” she said, adding, “It was necessary to put things right” before she pursued that position, which Mr. Hollande planned to hold into next year.

Neither said when they had parted.

It has been an open secret that the two, who never married, have been less than a couple for some time. The separation was disclosed in a book to be published Wednesday in which Ms. Royal essentially accused Mr. Hollande of having another relationship.

The new 577-member National Assembly is substantially more female than the previous one; 107 of the new members are women, compared with 71 members in the last Assembly.

Only 16 deputies are black, 15 of them from France’s overseas territories, one of them being George Pau-Langevin, a Guadeloupe-born female lawyer from the working-class 20th Arrondissement in Paris. The only candidate of North African origin who made it into the second round lost Sunday…

In typical fashion the New York Times only reports this after it would have no bearing on the recent elections, although it has been generally known since before the May presidential poll.

Do you think the New York Times would have sat on the story if Mr. Sarkozy’s wife had been divorcing him?

The article also managed to leave out that Ms. Royal dumped Mr. Hollande because of his philandering ways. (I guess the reporter didn’t want to stress the Clinton parallel anymore than necessary.)

Yet the Solons at The Times found room to report the gender and racial mix of the new parliament.

After all, according to The Times we are all slaves of our sex and skin color — except when they decide we are not.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, June 19th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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