Valérie or Carla: The real match

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Reviewed on 04/10/2012 | No Reviews

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Is Valérie Trierweiler the Next First Lady of France?

The presidential election is coming closer. And for whoever wins the game in May, it’s not only about a possible and probable new president. It’s also about a possible and probably new First Lady. You already know Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Now meet Valérie Trierweiler, girlfriend of François Hollande and Bruni’s possible successor for the position.

Photo: © AFP, Jewel Samad & Patrick Kovarik

Who’s Valérie Trierweiler? A smart journalist who prefers shadow over the spotlight. Or, as socialist challenger François Hollande simply put it, “the woman of my life”. Trierweiler, a well-known journalist, 47 years old, was already with Hollande when his ex-wife, Ségolene Royal, was running the last presidential campaign for the Socalist Party five years ago. But the French didn’t know back then. Or let’s say: the great majority didn’t know.

It’s always like this. There is rumour between journalists and politicians, but the people often learn years later about the lies, escapades and masquerades of those at the top of the state and they don’t blame them. It all fits under the category: protection of the private life.

A Katherine Hepburn coolness

Cheekbones as striking as her intelligence: Valéie Trierweiler, Photo: AFP, Thomas Samson

Trierweiler, a political reporter for Paris Match, has been described as “bright and elegant, with a Katharine Hepburn coolness, all striking cheekbones and twirling waves of auburn”. She has three boys from a previous union and is used to juggling between work and private life. She obviously is not someone one who has been waiting all her life to one day walk  into the Elysée Palace. On the contrary.

Questioned about her personality by Gala magazine in March, she said: “I have a strong character, I’m frank and I don’t like things to go unsaid. People think me cold, but for me it’s about keeping my distance.” She told Paris Match in March that she is attracted to Hollande’s “sense of humour and intelligence”.

Hollandes trump charm?

The day Mrs. Trierweiler found herself splashed on the front page of Paris Match, the magazine for whom she works, she was in a fury. The headline was going: “Valérie, François Hollandes trump charm. The story of how their love was born.” Her colleagues did not even inform her before. That’s why she was mad at them and tweeted: “What a shock to find yourself on the front page of your own paper. I’m angry to see the use of photos without my agreement and without letting me know.”

Now how does Mrs. Trierweiler prepare to replace the so very glamorous and very smart Carla Bruni-Sarkozy? In being the “normal woman”, a “normal girlfriend” of the “normal candidate”, I suppose. Trierweiler who’s somehow suspended from her work as a political reporter would have to drop her work for the time she will stay at the Elsyees as a First Lady. Not sure that she’s looking forward to it.

The bling-free option

The French know what they will lose, they don’t know yet what they could gain. When Carla Bruni appeared for the first time at Sarkozy’s side, she was already a well known star. But the former model, singer and third wife of Nicolas Sarkozy hasn’t made a single mistake since she married the president. She has got one fault though: she is so tremendously rich and glamorous, that she somehow reminds us of  his hidden bling attitude that still sticks to him. And this could harm him.

Mrs. Trierweiler, on the other side, is what you could call “bling-free”. And unlike Bruni, she had an upbringing that has been described as modest, a term she rejects though: “I’m not Cinderella,” she told French Elle.

If the French would choose a couple, not only a president, the choice would be already be made: some 40% of a recent poll would choose François Hollande and his girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler as their preferred presidential couple.

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