A presidency under the sign of soberness

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Reviewed on 05/15/2012 | No Reviews

My Concierge Told Me

Here he comes, France’s new President. And as expected, the ceremony of his inauguration was more than sober. His speech after having been sworn in was beautiful, making a clear cut with the style and the politics of his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

Valérie Trierweiler: a normal First Lady photo: AFP, Lionel Bonaventure

Mr. Hollande promised a presidency of “dignity, simplicity and soberness”. The first sign of this change are clear: His children as well as those of his partner Valérie Trierweiller didn’t assist at the inauguration ceremony. He also picked an upscale hybrid Citroen as official car, which stopped at every red light when driving him to the Elysée Palace. A first during the 5th Republic.

Just good wishes

Hollande’s speech was impressive. Not only because he showed that he finally had the stature of a statesman. But mostly because it was a severe if not bitter moment of reckoning with Sarkozy. And whereas he praised his various predecessors for particular accomplishments, he didn’t have very warm words for the performance of his immediate predecessor: “I express my good wishes for the new life that is opening before him.”

Hollande will be measured at his promises: “My mandate is to bring France back to justice, open a new way in Europe, contribute to world peace and preserve the planet”, he said solemnly.

A simple life

And the First Ladies, you might ask? Well. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was simply dressed in a black suit, which didn’t really fit. The Parisians are already gossiping. Is she pregnant again? “She looked like wearing a cheap Zara suit”, a friend of mine said. Apparently, Bruni is looking forward a simple life. There was no sign of deception on her face, when she left the Elysée hand in hand with her husband.

Mrs. Trierweiler on the other side showed what the French call allure. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not about sexual allure. It’s all about radiance, if not charisma. And instead of wearing a Dior dress (like Carla so often did), she set an example choosing a simple black chiffon dress from the clearly lower-key brand Apostrophe. In her place, I wouldn’t have topped this with a snow-white clutch and coat. But, hey, we shouldn’t reproach her not being perfect. She said she would not be a classical First Lady. But aspires to be a very normal one.

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