Royal not amused at being written out of campaign tale


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The Independent Online

Ségolène Royal, the failed French presidential candidate in 2007, protested yesterday that she had been "zapped" out of the life story and campaign rhetoric of her former partner François Hollande.

Mr Hollande, the Socialist presidential candidate in this spring's presidential election, lived with Ms Royal for two decades until just after her election defeat in 2007. They have four grown-up children together.

In an 83-minute speech at his first big campaign rally at Le Bourget near Paris on Sunday, Mr Hollande gave name-checks to his parents, to past presidents and to writers, including Camus and Shakespeare. He made no reference to Ms Royal, either as a politician, or as his ex-partner.

In a short film about the candidate's life, shown just before he spoke, Ms Royal was given only a fleeting background appearance. Mr Hollande's new partner, Valérie Trierweiler, merited a close-up.

Ms Royal, 58, who was present at the rally with other Socialist leaders, was asked yesterday if she was "wounded" to have been left out of Mr Hollande's speech. She was careful to reply as a politician but made it clear that she was also replying as a woman.

"It is never a good idea to zap whole political episodes," she said. "The entourages [surrounding François Hollande] should take note of that." Ms Royal's use of the plural "entourages" appeared to embrace his new life partner as well as his campaign managers.

Ms Royal went on to point out that 17 million people had voted for her in the second round of the 2007 presidential election. Although she was defeated by President Sarkozy, she had been the "first woman in French history to reach the second round".

"Perhaps, if there is momentum [in Mr Hollande's campaign] today, it has been built on previous events and a certain number of principles which were laid down," she said. "None of these things should be zapped. No one should be rubbed out of our history because it is, above all, a collective history."

Mr Hollande, 57, tops opinion polls for the first round of the election on 22 April. His Le Bourget speech, in which he promised to revive the "French dream" and take on the power of "big finance", was well received by most of the French media yesterday. It was rejected by supporters of President Sarkozy as "archaic".