Will 'President Normal' make an honest First Lady of the unmarried partner they call the Rottweiler
Valerie Trierweller, 47, st to be first unmarried 'Premier Dame'Twice-divorced president-to-be's partner met him when she was a reporter
17:39 GMT, 7 May 2012
Celebration time: Trierweiler, France's first 'Premiere Dame' to enter the Elysee Palace, is pictured this morning leaving Mr Hollande's campaign headquarters in Paris
From a former supermodel with a reputation for partying with rock stars to a twice-divorced mother the French vote for president will see more than just economic policies change.
Valerie Trierweiler, 47, the partner of Mr Hollande, will become the first unmarried ‘Premire Dame’ in history to enter the Elysee Palace on the arm of the country's most powerful man.
The feisty magazine journalist was revealed as Mr Hollande’s lover when he separated from the mother of his four children, the politician Segolene Royal, with whom he lived for 30 years.
She had gained the nickname ‘Rottweiler’ after she slapped a colleague on Paris Match who said something she deemed sexist.
When the magazine put her on its cover under the headline ‘Francois
Hollande’s charming asset’, she tweeted: ‘Bravo Paris Match for its
sexism … my thoughts go out to all angry women.’
But despite her reputation, she has said that she intends to be more low key than her predecessor Carla Bruni.
‘I will stay among those
accompanying,’ she said in an interview before the election. ‘I will
bend to protocol. But it will be for me to find my place. First Lady is
not something I’ve ever dreamed of. What I’m scared of is losing my
All smiles: The couple acknowledge supporters after victory in the French Presidential Elections at La Bastille
French newspaper Liberation hailed the victory of 'President Normal'
'I am not seeking notoriety and I am not seeking to grab the limelight.'
She has also voiced concerns at the
prospect of losing her independence because of her partner's new role –
and so it seems a wedding is probably the last thing on the to-do list
for the new power couple.
as Hollande, 57, looks to build on his victory over Sarkozy with his
anti-austerity reforms, it seems inevitable the French public will also
begin to wonder if he will do the decent thing and propose.
Trierweiler says she and Hollande
first met 23 years ago when she was a political reporter. He was married
with a family, but otherwise leading a fairly routine existence.
makes much of his roots in Rouen, the dull Normandy city that reflects
his desired provincial image as the hard-working son of a doctor father
and social worker mother.
In reality, his family lived in the
upmarket Bois-Guillaume 'heights' of Rouen — until forced to move as a
result of his father Georges's extreme Right-wing politics.
Georges was exposed as a close supporter
of a former Vichy official who stood for president in a campaign
managed by Jean-Marie Le Pen, later infamous as the Holocaust-denying
founder of the Front National.
The ripples from this revelation led
Georges to sell the family home and his clinic in 1968, when his son was
14. He retrained as an estate agent and moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine, the
Parisian suburb that is Sarkozy's fiefdom.
The move was so rapid his father binned his young son's childhood possessions, including a cherished collection of toy cars.
a background left its mark. His biographer Raffy traces Hollande's
dislike of confrontation, his desire to compromise and his
self-deflecting humour back to a childhood need to avoid his father's
anger and the brutal corporal punishment meted out at his strict school.
Francois Hollande acknowledges his supporters after ousting Nicolas Sarkozy as president in France
French kiss: The new 'first lady' Valerie Trierweiler and President-elect Hollande in an onstage show of affection during the victory rally in Paris
to what his detractors believe, the man is neither cunning nor
cynical,' wrote Raffy. 'He is simply in a posture of avoidance.'
was, however, very close to his mother, Nicole, who stood as a
Socialist candidate in Cannes in 2008. She died the following year, and
Hollande has told friends he will dedicate his victory to her if he
After moving to Paris,
the preppy Neuilly-sur-Seine Lycee propelled the hard-working teenager
into the cole Nationale d'Administration (ENA), which churns out the
elite cliques dominating French politics, business and society.
1974, he spent the summer in the U.S. after winning a business school
grant, driving from New York to San Francisco as Richard Nixon's
presidency crumbled amid the Watergate scandal.
studied the invention of fast food, concentrating on McDonald's and
Kentucky Fried Chicken, those symbols of globalisation — and concluded
they would invade France, too.
'I could have made a fortune in cheeseburgers,' he once told the New York Times. 'But I finally chose politics.
Ousted: Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni leave the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the president, after his election defeat
was while he was at the ENA that Hollande fell for Sgolne Royal, a
young radical. They met at a student party and remained together for 30
After they both
became advisers to the Socialist President Francois Mitterrand in the
early Eighties, Hollande became an MP in south-central France and rose
to become head of the region.
1995, Hollande was appointed Socialist Party spokesman and, two years
later, elected head of the party, a position he held for 11 years.
with the inflated egos and vicious factionalism of so-called comrades,
he was viewed as someone who ducked difficult decisions and led from
behind. 'He is Mr Conciliator, Mr Compromise, Mr Consensus,' said one
old friend. With his pudgy features and portly frame, he was mocked by
television satirists as 'Flanby' (a brand of caramel pudding) and
the blow of the 2007 presidential election. Despite his position as
party chief, he failed to win the nomination and had to suffer the
ignominy of his long-time partner Sgolne Royal seizing the crown in
his place, only to lose against Sarkozy.
First Lady is not something I’ve ever dreamed of. What I’m scared of is losing my liberty.
Months later, Royal announced their
separation; they had actually split the year before, since Hollande was
having an affair with Trierweiler, a journalist on the magazine Paris
Trierweiler once slapped a colleague who said something she deemed
sexist. When her own magazine put her on its cover under the headline
'Francois Hollande's charming asset', she tweeted: 'Bravo Paris Match
for its sexism . . . my thoughts go out to all angry women.'
and Hollande are no longer on good terms — unsurprisingly, since he
calls his new partner 'the love of his life' in interviews. 'Can anyone
recall anything Francois Hollande has done in 30 years' Royal asked
bitterly at one point, though she has since grudgingly backed him.
With the help of The Rottweiler, this campaign saw the emergence of a new Hollande.
Ms Trierweiler, the partner of Mr Hollande, has become the first unmarried 'Premier Dame' in French history
He lost weight, sharpened his suits
and ditched his old-fashioned horn-rimmed glasses. He started to mimic
the mannerisms, the talk, even the walk of his hero Mitterrand.
year the eternal backroom boy was almost a joke, with just three per
cent support in the polls. 'Can you imagine Francois Hollande as
president of the republic' said Laurent Fabius, a former Socialist
prime minister. 'You must be joking.'
came the downfall of the party favourite, the sexually incontinent
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Hollande seized the moment he had been
preparing for all his life, seeing off five rivals, including Royal.
Glamour: Valerie Trierweiler at the opening of Direct Star in Paris in September 2010
defining day came in January, in his first big rally, when he declared
his desire to 'reinvent the French dream' to 15,000 ecstatic Socialists.
His forceful oratory and fierce attack on capitalism took even his
biggest fans by surprise.
real adversary has no name, no face, no party,' he thundered. 'It will
never be elected, yet it governs — the adversary is the world of
The racy rhetoric
was backed by an old-fashioned Socialist programme of higher public
spending and hefty taxes on businesses and the rich.
Last night David Cameron, who snubbed
Mr Hollande during a recent visit to the UK, phoned the new president
to congratulate him on his victory.
Downing Street spokesman said: ‘They both look forward to working very
closely together in the future and building on the very close
relationship that already exists between the UK and France.’
Labour leader Ed Miliband, who met Mr Hollande during his London visit, also sent his congratulations.
‘This new leadership is sorely needed as Europe seeks to escape from austerity, and it matters to Britain,’ he said.
his campaign, he has shown that the centre-Left can offer hope and win
elections with a vision of a better, more equal and just world.’
Mr Holland wants a change to
strict rules which dictate how much member states can spend, without
which most observers believe a new European economic crisis is
has pledged to slap a 75 per cent tax on those earning more than one
million euros a year, or around 850,000. The move is expected to lead
to an exodus of 'le super rich' – with many of them likely to head to
London where the top rate of tax will be 45p.
Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel spearheaded the cost-cutting
treaty, and many have worried about potential conflict within the
Franco-German 'couple' that underpins Europe's post-war unity. Today
Standard & Poor's said that the Mr Hollande's election would not
have an immediate impact on France's AA+ credit rating.
they said there is 'at least a one in three chance' that it will be
lowered before the end of 2013. City analysts said that while stock
markets had expected a Hollande win, the results in Paris and Athens
could tip the strained eurozone back into turmoil. Mr Hollande claimed
that many voters in Europe would greet his election with relief.
‘Europe is watching us, austerity can no longer be the only option,’ he said.
to contain his emotions, Mr Sarkozy said: ‘I did my best to protect the
French people during the events of the past five years, so that France
could come out stronger from this crisis.’
He finished: ‘You are the eternal France, I love you.’
He is the 11th European leader to be swept from office since the start of the economic crisis in 2008.
* Additional reporting: Peter Allen in Paris.