François Hollande's honeymoon over – in 140 characters

First Lady's tweet at expense of President's ex is condemned

Paris

The French press declared President François Hollande's honeymoon to be officially over yesterday – shattered by a public spat between the two women in his life. There was almost universal condemnation of the First Lady, Valérie Trierweiler, for sending a tweet supporting a political rival of Ségolène Royal, the mother of Mr Hollande's four children. The Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, publicly criticised the First Lady, apparently with Mr Hollande's blessing. He said that she had to learn to be "discreet" and to "know her place".

The incident – the first big "social media" intrusion into French politics – has been dubbed "Tweetgate" by French newspapers. Delighted right-wing politicians spoke of "Dallas in the Elysée Palace".

Several ministers said, off the record, that the episode was the first serious gaffe of the Hollande presidency and a blow to his carefully cultivated image as a "Monsieur Normal". Though trivial, they said, the incident engulfed Mr Hollande in just the kind of private-public muddle that had damaged the early months of Nicolas Sarkozy's term of office.

Ms Trierweiler, 47, made no public comment. In private, she is reported to be unabashed and unable to understand (despite 20 years in journalism) why her short message filled the front pages of most French newspapers yesterday. President Hollande's unmarried partner, who works for the magazine Paris Match, sent a tweet on Tuesday supporting a renegade Socialist politician who threatens to deny Mr Hollande's former unmarried partner, Ms Royal, a seat in parliament this weekend.

"Best of luck to Olivier Falorni who has done nothing wrong and has battled selflessly for the people of La Rochelle for so many years," Ms Trierweiler tweeted.

Mr Falorni, a long-time ally of Mr Hollande, had refused to accept a decision by his party to "parachute" Ms Royal, a former presidential candidate, into the constituency.

Both he and Ms Royal ran for the seat in the first round of parliamentary elections last Sunday. Both qualified for the second round. With many centre-right voters opposed to Ms Royal, Mr Falorni could win the seat this Sunday. He has refused all demands from party headquarters that he should step down.

The First Lady is reported to have been piqued into sending the tweet by the inclusion of President Hollande's name in a list of second-round endorsements of Ms Royal. Relations between the two were known to be execrable but had seemed to improve lately.

French media said that, by sending her tweet, Ms Trierweiler had simultaneously interfered in an internal party quarrel and publicly displayed her "jealousy" of President Hollande's long-time partner.

One minister tried to laugh the incident off: "The President's partner detests his 'ex' and his 'ex' detests his present partner. What could be more normal than that?" he asked.

But other Socialists complained that the incident had thrown the President's party onto the defensive just as it seemed to be in command. "It's very upsetting," one minister said. "We knew Valerie's attitude [to Ségolène] might cause a problem for François... but we thought they had sorted it out between themselves. Now, it looks as if it's not under control at all."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent