French President, François Hollande, has recently learned a valuable lesson in keeping his private matters, well, private. After his alleged affair, Hollande has received an uproar of negative publicity that could be compared to the likes of what former U.S. President Bill Clinton received during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Although the saying is, “Any publicity is good publicity,” François Hollande would be one to disagree, what with the attention he has received concerning his alleged affair with actress Julie Gayet. The secret love life of Hollande went public last week, when the French celebrity magazine entitled Closer broke the story. This seven page article is reported to have shown pictures of Hollande being escorted to an apartment located in Paris’ chic 8th arrondissement. It is here that Hollande supposedly spent the night with Gayet. As the story was being prepared for publication, Hollande retaliated by threatening to sue the magazine for invasion of privacy. Just when it didn’t seem that Hollande’s private life couldn’t be any more public, his current girlfriend Valerie Trierweiler, was hospitalized upon the publication of the article. In addition, the location of the apartment added further speculation, what with the allegations that these meetings with Gayet had ties with the Corsican mafia.
Following the harsh criticism generated by the rumor treadmill in regard to Hollande’s affair, the French president held his customary news conference for the New Year. During the conference, Hollande discussed economy, hostages, the French health care system, and the situation in Mali and the Central African Republic. However, the question that remained heavy on every journalist mind, was whether or not anyone would have the courage to question the President’s private. Finally, journalist Alain Barluet dared asking what was on everyone’s mind. After formally thanking the president for his speech, Barluet asked, “Is Valérie Trierweiler still France’s first lady?” Hollande evaded the question by responding, “Everyone goes through difficult, painful periods in their lives and that is our case. I have one principle: private affairs are dealt with in private and with respect for privacy of others. This is not the time or place and I will not respond nor answer any question today.” Even though conversation regarding the issue was short, Hollande did issue a statement saying that he would announce this decision in February, before his trip to the United States.
Despite all of the negativity surrounding Hollande’s personal life, the fact remains that both Hollande and Trierweiler are not married. So, in a sense, it isn’t a legitimate affair. However, it seems that with Hollande’s so called affair, that his private life has become a public matter for the citizens of France, having them asking, “Who is our First Lady?” What’s worse for Hollande, is that this development has no effect on the citizens of France with whom he is already unpopular. This conclusion is based on the fact that, while 77 percent of the French population believe that Hollande’s personal life is his own business, eighty-four percent say it has no effect on their previous attitudes about him. This speaks volumes about exactly how unsatisfied the French are with their scandalous president.