On Hollande’s first Bastille Day, expect family fireworks
What can we expect from François Hollande’s first Bastille Day as president? Three things are for sure: crap weather, a rare appearance from his catty girlfriend, and – supposedly – the last word on the “Tweetgate” family feud... Or so he hopes.
Dubbed “Rain Man” for his umbrella-less public appearances in wet weather, it seems only right that François Hollande’s first-ever Bastille Day as head of state will take place under grey skies and heavy showers. But his other nickname, Mr. Normal, will take on a new dimension Saturday when the new president is forced to broach a family quarrel during his televised speech.
The family feud that has left Mr. Normal looking like the lead character of a British soap opera entered Act II this week, with Hollande’s (surprisingly good-looking) eldest son taking charge of the shit-stirrer, effectively dragging papa president back into the fray just days before France’s national holiday. The 27-year-old lawyer, Thomas Hollande (right), told French politics magazine Le Point that Valérie Trierweiler (i.e.: evil stepmother), had destroyed the “normal” image of his father by making personal issues public.
He was, of course, talking about the infamous tweet that journalist Trierweiler sent in early June regarding his (darling!) mother, Ségolène Royal. For those of you who missed Act I, Trierweiler tweeted her support for Royal’s political rival in the La Rochelle constituency just days before the legislative elections. Royal subsequently lost the election, along with her dream of becoming speaker of the National Assemblée. Mr. Hollande, who spent 30 years with Royal and fathered her four children before allegedly dumping her for Trierweiller in 2007, is said to have been furious.
This kind of sizzling soap storyline usually comes to a head at a Christmas party or a dodgy wedding ceremony. For Hollande, it’s the nationwide Bastille Day party. Hopefully nobody will get pushed off a roof or find out they’re adopted, but there will be one gruelling televised speech in which Hollande is expected to rap the knuckles of his spiteful lover and apologise on behalf of his over-protective son. And then tactfully move on to the real-life trauma of 8,000 redundancies at Peugeot...
Return of the 'Rottweiler'
Since posting the fateful tweet, Trierweiler (nicknamed The Rottweiler by her opponents), has kept a low profile, but is expected to re-emerge at the party on Saturday. The French are far from enamoured by this feisty “first lady”: in an online opinion poll by French radio RTL, almost 70% of respondents felt that Trierweiler should pipe down.
But public opinion on Thomas Hollande is divided. While some (Royalists, probably) think that Hollande Junior did the right thing in standing up for his mother, many others think that his public griping has only poured more fuel onto the family fire, forcing Hollande to step in when he should be dealing with more important matters.