Sunday, 12 January 2014

So What Now, First Concubine?

Valerie Trierweiler has been humiliated by the Closer piece about Francois Hollande’s affair with an actress. Will she stay in her gorgeous Elysée Palace residence with her fabulously furnished private rooms in the East Wing, her staff of six and her expense account? Or will she leave her gilded cage and return to ‘normal’ life, which means earning her living again in the world of journalism, and possibly of ‘tell all’ books.
Her problem is that she is not an official ‘wife’ but rather an official ‘concubine.’
French law recognizes concubines as having similar rights within a relationship to a wife. Hence, Ségolène Royale, Hollande’s former concubine with whom he has four grown up children, made a settlement with him for €900,000 in 2012. But the civil laws on Concubinage do not extend to matters of State. For Trierweiler, nicknamed the Rottweiler (thanks to her ferocious attacks on colleagues at Paris Match before Hollande’s election and her promotion to First Girlfriend, and others since) must now face a dilemma. Does she swallow her ire and stay in her rather uncertain position or push François Hollande for a settlement and get out of the Elysée? 
She may not have the choice. The past several months have seen a legal attempt to prove that Trierweiler has no right whatsoever to her residence in the Elysée paid for by the French taxpayer. She is neither the legal spouse of the President, nor elected to any position, nor an official paid employee and there is therefore no justification for her expenses of €19,000 per month that pays her staff, her clothes and her living costs.
So what now? She has been superceded as First Concubine by a younger model and indeed it is doubtful if after this embarrassment and no doubt furious rows with Hollande, that she will be functioning as a concubine at all.
There will, as she moves about the Elysée be hushed silences and downcast eyes when she meets her staff, thinly veiled disrespect from the uniformed functionaries, and hardly veiled sneers from those whom she has lashed with her barbed tongue.
Outside, in the streets and watering holes of Paris she will, if she dares go out at all be laughed at, for this woman who has been so arrogant and vicious to others, including to Ségolène Royale (both in person and in print) is now cast out of favour.
As for appearing in public on the President’s arm or shadowing him with a raised umbrella (the pose that caused me to nickname her “First Umbrella Carrier”) her official visits have been canceled. Hollande frequently went on his state visits alone. One reason for not marrying his companion was in order to be able to choose to represent his country without a spouse if he chose. (No doubt Sarkozy wishes he had made the same choice rather than be saddled with a woman who was trying to steal the show everywhere they went.).
So now all that remains is for her friends in TV or print journalism to find Valerie a job. Then she can leave François and the taxpayer funded sinecure of the expenses paid Elysée.
Will Hollande then move his new woman into the Elysée’s East Wing and offer her bed, board, clothing allowance and a staff paid for by the State? Or has that little actress already ruined her chances by appearing on TV and bbbling about her relationship with Hollande.
This show has a long way yet to run. Well, at least until Hollande’s Parliamentary colleagues decide that enough is enough. The carnage to follow may include further devastating falls in Hollande’s public support. A snap poll taken after the Closer publication showed 78% of respondents think the affair’s disclosure will harm the President. The local elections in March and the European Elections in June may finally force his party to admit that he must be asked to resign or else be Impeached for his failure to run the country properly.
His secret overnight absences at the actress mistress’s Paris studio left his Presidential responsibilities on those occasions in limbo. The Commander in Chief, who has sent French troops to Africa has put his own security at risk and that of his nation while absent from the shop. One security guard only knew of his whereabouts on these occasions. Never mind the risk of a scooter crash or worse. These careless adolescent escapades that put the nation at risk must surely be added to the list of misdemeanours including the failure to report his true wealth in 2012 and his mismanagement of the French economy that justify a vote by one third of either house of representatives for his Impeachment.
The alternative must be the election of the Front Nationale to power with the consequent shambolic retreat of France from the EU, the Euro and civilization.

For the full story on Hollande’s concealment of his wealth of €17 million in 2012 see my previous article “Don’t Shoot The President—yet!” at dated January 5th 2014.

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