The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Phil Hall Headshot

Hollande May Feel It's Private, but the Whole World Is Watching...

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

There is a joke going around social media which is a satirical take on France President Francois Hollande's much talked about press conference.

It goes like this:
Journalist: "Monsieur Hollande, did you have an affair with that actress?"
Hollande: "No comment."
Journalist: "How is the labour market?"
Hollande: "Okay, I confess, I did have relations with that actress."

The joke sums up how the allegations surrounding Mr Hollande have caused a wave of headlines and threatened to overshadow the new year press conference in Paris, at which he addressed the media on the many social and economic issues faced in France.

What really happened was far less interesting than the joke mentioned above: it took an age before anyone was able to ask a question concerning the allegations.

Hollande's response was: ""Private affairs stay private. This is not the place nor the time. I will not answer any questions on this subject today."

It is difficult to believe that in the UK, he would have been allowed to go so long before being put on the spot.

He later said he was "totally indignant" over the allegations - but did not offer an apology.

But his response to the questions was hardly surprising.

Before he faced journalists, a recent poll in France suggested that 77 per cent of the population believe the President François Hollande's love-life is a private matter.

One of Hollande's fellow politicians has angrily dismissed "l'affaire Hollande" as voyeurism.

It's true to say the story has had some incredible twists and turns and despite the French views on privacy, it will surely affect his standing among the public.

To recap, the French version of the magazine Closer, published pictures (across seven pages) which it says show the Socialist leader and a lover entering an apartment close to the Elysée Palace in Paris.

The detail is the stuff of old school revelations which are perhaps more in-line with political scandal stories traditionally found in British red top newspapers.

The report insisted the president travels on a chauffeur-driven scooter to spend nights in the alleged love nest.

While Hollande was giving his press conference, we know his official First Lady, Valerie Trierweiler, was still recovering in hospital apparently suffering stress.

I can see why the president might want to keep his goings on private.

But this stance on his private life cannot be in the interests of the country, in terms of integrity and transparency?

When a politician accepts the mandate to go for the highest position in the land, he or she must also accept they have forfeited the right to privacy over their love lives.

It is also reported that the flat-turned-love nest in question may be somehow linked to the Corsican Mafia. If true, this aspect raises various security issues.

A prime minister or president must be open and honest in all of their dealings with the public and attending public events with a partner you are no longer co-habiting with is deceitful.

It must also surely be a consideration that the partners of presidents and prime ministers receive immense privileges. But if that person is no longer fulfilling the role of "First Lady", that position must change too.

His behaviour and dalliances must also bring into question his ability to serve with integrity because Hollande has now enjoyed the company of three vivacious, elegant women in a very short space of time. He has done so while giving out the air of a rather portly maths teacher from the local secondary school.

Privacy laws aside, the French love a sex scandal just like the rest of the world. They try to pretend that as a country they tolerate affairs, powerful men are somehow entitled to take lovers and the rest of the world is somewhat immature not to understand.

The hypocrisy lies in the fact they seriously believe these relationships have no impact on the ability to do their jobs.

It was David Mellor's mother-in-law who said once: "A man who can cheat on his wife, can cheat on his country."

Her daughter divorced Mr Mellor shortly after that and Mr Mellor lost his job over his friendship with the family of a Libyan minister whilst Britain had a bad relationship with the Middle Eastern country.

Hollande's credibility is at a new low and one thing is for sure, his behaviour will not win the support of female voters.

Around the Web

BBC News - Hollande ducks First Lady Valerie Trierweiler question

François Hollande | World news | The Guardian

Hollande ducks First Lady Valerie Trierweiler question

Francois Hollande press conference: live

Francois Hollande Faces Media Over Affair Claims