At first, everyone thought her Twitter account must have been hacked.
But no: here was the new first lady of France, Valérie Trierweiler, the companion of President François Hollande, tweeting her apparent opposition to Hollande’s previous partner and mother of Hollande’s four children, Ségolène Royal, who was also the Parti socialiste‘s 2007 presidential candidate. Royal is fighting for her political life in a tough second-round runoff where she faces an unexpectedly tough fight from renegade leftist Olivier Falorni.
While the entire Parti socialiste high guard from Hollande himself to party president Martine Aubry to prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault have all called for Falorni to step down in favor of Royal, Trierweiler tweeted this yesterday:
Courage à Olivier Falorni qui n’a pas démérité, qui se bat aux côtés des rochelais depuis tant d’ années dans un engagement désintéressé. [Good luck to Olivier Falorni who is a worthy candidate. For years he has been fighting with selfless commitment for the people of La Rochelle.]
Needless to say, when there’s just a week between the two rounds of a parliamentary election, this has been an unwelcome headline for Hollande, crowding out other political news both yesterday and today.
In the first round in Charente-Maritime 17, Royal won just 32.03% to Falorni’s 28.91% — Sally Chadjaa, the UMP candidate, won just 19.47%, but did not qualify for this Sunday’s runoff. The result caught the national media off guard and was one of the biggest surprises in Sunday’s mostly unsurprising first round. Royal, who was running in the constituency for the first time, had been promised the presidency of the Assemblée nationale by Hollande, after graciously campaigning for Hollande at a large rally in Rennes earlier in the spring (shown together above).
Although a poll today, conducted before and during The Tweet, showed that Falorni leads Royal 58% to 42%, mostly on the strength of UMP votes, Ayrault has again called on Falorni to step aside. It is customary, when two or more leftist candidates advance to the second round, for the second-place candidate to step aside for the first-round winner. Falorni, who has been a longtime ally to Hollande and who actually lives in the constituency, has refused.
The tweet highlights at least four immediate problems for Hollande and the Parti socialiste, who hope to emerge from Sunday’s elections with an outright majority of at least 289 seats in the Assemblée nationale: Continue reading Tweet sets off ‘battle Royal’ between first lady and Hollande’s former partner