Friday, April 20, 2012

Presidential Politics

Valérie Trierweiler
You thought I was going to talk about the American presidential campaign didn't you? Not on your life will I jump into that morass.

Carla Bruni Sarkozy
Instead I thought I would address a very peculiar phenomenon -- in my opinion -- that is at the center of the French presidential race. The women attached to the candidates are all but nonexistent. Eva Jolie,  the sole woman running we assume is unattached at the moment. Of the other nine candidates -- yes, can you believe it (?) 10 candidates total -- except for the two top runners we have no idea what their spouses look like. As far as I know we don't even know their names or if they have children -- or dogs. . .
Ségolène Royal
The former top model, Madame Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who is France's current first lady remains mostly hidden in the shadows. The man challenging Nicolas Sarkozy, Socialist François Hollande, has never been married although he fathered four children with Ségolène Royal who lost her presidential run five years ago against France's current leader. Today Hollande's partner is the journalist Valérie Trierweiler who is often front row center, but never on the stage with her partner although she is apparently a vociferous Tweeter.

Neither woman is "on the trail" working the crowds for their men. In fact, Hollande was asked that if elected would he and Trierweiler marry. He said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- they were not concerned with convention and would not marry for the sake of social acceptability. He would be the first president in the history of the country not to be married.

All polls show that Sarkozy and Hollande will be the only candidates left standing after this Sunday's preliminary voting to winnow the race down to the top two for the final contest on May 6th.

We know quite a bit about President Sarkozy and his wife because they have been, by choice and by chance, in the public spotlight for five years. We know very little about Monsieur Hollande.

It seems to me that candidates' partners show another dimension of the man or woman running for office. I would like to know them. How do the two compliment one another? I agree with the French that we do not have to enter deeply into their private lives, but wouldn't it be nice to see the partnership?

Monsieur et Madame Sarkozy with baby Giulia.
Sarkozy was so reviled for sharing personal details of his courtship and marriage to Bruni that the two refused to allow any pictures to be published of their baby girl born late last year. They didn't want to be accused of using Giulia as a tender family public relations stunt.

If you think this musing is going someplace; I regret to say it is not. Maybe it's the American in me that would like to know the person as well as the politician even if the information is carefully staged. I want to be introduced to the family. They don't have to invite me for dinner; I simply want to meet them.


That's Not My Age said...

I'm torn about this because I don't like it when politicians' wives are used as glorified accessories and judged on how they look/what they wear. When the Camerons went to the USA the media created a silly 'style-off' between Michelle Obama and Sam Cameron. But then on the other hand, I'm quite nosey - and as you point out it's good to know the person as well as the politican, who exactly it is that you're voting for.

Fingers crossed for Hollande. And I look forward to reading more about Valerie Trierweller.

Lost in Provence said...

This is such a good point! Holy cow! Why hasn't anyone else mentioned this? I wonder if it is because there has been quite a bit of backlash against some of the more insipid or inappropriate things that Carla has said. She definitely has not helped Sarko.

Go Hollande!! I have totally changed my feelings about him. I couldn't stand him when he was at Segolene Royal's side but have a lot of hope pinned on him. And if he wins, we expats might actually get to vote!!!

RoseAG said...

I can't seperate the personal from the public, but I'm not French.

We were in New Hampshire when Sarkozy visited then President Bush at his Kennebunkport home, and I was shocked that his wife declined to visit that lovely estate with him.

I guess it wasn't a surprise when later that year they split and he married Bruni. Sharing details of their courtship, when he was already married to someone else would not fly in the U.S., perhaps the French view this differently.

Since the other front-runner Hollande isn't involved in a conventional relationship either it seems that neither man's family relationships give them an edge. Politically I think that Hollande is on the right road in rejecting the German imposed austerity, but I disagree that raising taxes on the wealthy is the remedy.

Does Hollande treat his children with regard? I always wonder about men who decline to marry the mother of their children.

helen tilston said...

Hello Tish

I am enjoying my first cappucino and basking in the early morning sunshine.

I believe the candidate running for President should do so on his own merit. I want someone who is a leader and has a vision.

We see far too many posed and fake pictures of Presidents/Prime Ministers and their wives. Then the message gets lost in trivia of the spouse and their children. Assuming the spouse was an Angel with the highest standards, the mainstream CNN and Fox media here in North America would find ways to reduce her.

I am delighted to see Hollandos is standing alone and is being honest.

On a funny note, have you seen the introductory speech for Women of the World 2012 Meryl Streep's Tribute to Hillary Clinton (can be found on u tube)
It speaks loudly on the subject of women.

Thanks Tish for a timely subject

Helen xx

M said...

There is another woman running. Her name is Marie Le Pen.

M said...


Jewel Yet to Find said...

Very timely and pulsing topic. After all it's French who said Chercher la femme.
Meryl Streep's Tribute is fabulous as everything she does or says.

Chanterelle said...

I can't believe you didn't show Eva Joly and her glasses!

Tish Jett said...

I do apologize. I'm wondering whether my forgetting Marine Le Pen was Freudian. . . There is also another female candidate, Nathalie Arthaud, whose slogan is "Workers' Struggle" which is to say leaning toward the Communism.

Le Pen will be, according to the polls, in third position after the Sunday vote.

Villette said...

I'm just grateful there's no chance Dominique Strauss-Kahn will be president after the election...compared with him, the rest of the politicians -- or at least, their private lives -- are all absolutely okay by me.

Linda C. said...

I absolutely hate the parading of of spouses and children in politics. Leave them out of it!

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