François Hollande's honeymoon over – in 140 characters

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


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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Recruitment Genius: Chef

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Chef is required to join one of the largest ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is required to jo...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor