translated by: Eve bourdillon
2013. April 27. 10:23
Valérie plonged her husband into trouble by taking her own position on the controversial debate. A respectable First Lady, in the French politics, should be more reserved. She should recognize the exact place she occupies – a place too special to assert her own “independence”.
By having taken a firm position on a political subject, Valérie Trierweiler shed doubt on the importance of her own words. Were they approved by François Hollande? Her support, opposing Ségolène Royal in La Rochelle placed the President in a very uncomfortable position. The suspicion that this is all just a manoeuvre to oust the latter’s ambitious ex-girlfriend, remains.
*The Presidency is entrusted to one and only person
The French elect a person to the Head of the State, not a couple. Therefore, the First Lady has no legal existence. Unwritten conventions recognize her representative role, as well as give her secretaries (responsible especially for her mail). However, she has not been given a governmentally important position. Though her official relationship with the Head of the State, she cannot claim total independence. If she does not speak on behalf of the President, she should avoid public statements on controversial issues. She is also to meet the respect of the country’s institutions.
*The declaration that deserve the President
As close as she can be to the President, Valérie Trierweiler will always be a separate person. Therefore she does not have all the stakes of the situations that involve her companion. The President is already a headline regular; it is never good to add on the polemics. The separation of the public and private sector was sometimes too vague under the five years of Sarkozy’s presidency. The faux pas of Ms. Trierweiler make a bad impression – and all the President ever wanted was to be “normal”.
He has been in the political sphere for a long time, and he knows the rules. Although his wife was a political journalist, she did not learn, unlike him, to keep her personal opinions for herself. To carry out his reforms, the French president needs the support of the parliament – meaning the partisan logic continues even after the election. The loyalty of a political figure to his party is even more demanding and restrictive than a journalist in his work.
*The risks of having a journalist First Lady
Being a journalist is not quite like your other occupation. The fact that the First Lady of the 21st century want to keep her job is no surprise. The difficulties emerge from the subjective nature of a journalist’s work. Since politics can interfere practically everywhere, Valérie Trierweiler will always be suspected of promotion of her companion’s decisions and of having forgotten to take a critical distance. François Hollande will be accused of trying to control the press and not offering the public serious articles.
Moreover, Valérie Trierweiler is very active on social media, especially on Twitter. Her habit of prompt reports of her thoughts without earlier consultation with the President’s entourage poses a serious problem. Is she expressing herself as a journalist, as a citizen activist, or as a partner of the Head of the State? The need for more discretion is crucial especially if situations like these exist. She should, perhaps, make a new habit of clarifying beforehand her reasons and motives when stating something, and in what name. The ridiculous lightness, France and the President should give her at least some credit for that, if it is tied back to the size of the country it claims.