Chary praise for French first lady

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The Independent Online

Elegant, nice and intelligent, but not yet a great first lady.

That was the verdict of a CSA opinion poll on Carla Bruni-Sarkozy published yesterday by le Parisien newspaper.

Two months after her wedding to President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian-born Carla has started to win the hearts of the French people, with 92 per cent describing her as elegant, 89 per cent as modern, 73 per cent as nice and 69 percent as intelligent.

Some 60 per cent estimated she would help modernise the image of France and 47 per cent said she would help promote French culture abroad.

However, when asked which French first lady of the modern era had represented the country well, she only came 6th out of 7, winning an approval rating of 43 percent against 81 percent for Bernadette Chirac, wife of the previous French president.

The only first lady who came off worse was Sarkozy's last wife, Cecilia, who divorced her husband in October five months after he took office. Her approval rating was 36 percent.

Carla kept a very low profile after her secret marriage to the president in February, but she has recently started to emerge from the shadows, notably during last month's state visit to Britain where she wowed the crowds with her style.

While Sarkozy poured praise on his wife for her London outing, only 30 percent of those questioned in Sunday's poll thought she would help improve their view of her husband.

Sarkozy's opinion ratings have tumbled this year, partly as a result of concern about his turbulent personal life, falling below the 40 per cent threshold.

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