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The First Lady – should she step forward or step back?

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Since François Hollande became the seventh President to be elected in the Fifth Republic, his Lady had been only shedding ink. She supported the socialist dissident Olivier Falorni, while the party supported his opponent in the election of La Rochelle. The politico-medial sphere quickly denounced a mixture of genres.
Source: Wikipédia

Valérie Trierweiler is wrong to believe she is free

Eve bourdillon | 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.

Valérie Trierweiler should find her rightful place next to the new President

Constance Marécheau | translated by: Constance Marécheau | 2013. April 27. 10:23

Although the function of the First Lady is not nearly official, she does have a small firm – but the companion of the President does not play an essential role whatsoever.

*An essential role

Each First Lady has placed her own mark during the term of her spouse, from Yvonne de Gaulle to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy through Danièle Mitterrand, who did not hesitate to publicly oppose her husband on ideological issues (but still with discernment and without having to interfere in pending matters). There had always been some form of expectation from the side of the French, as well as curiosity about the role played by the First Lady, throughout the whole time she had to stay hidden during the presidential campaign. Her appointment was never made easier by the –mostly excessive– wait.

*A modern woman

The controversy surrounding the role of Valérie Trierweiler certainly comes from some extent from the fact that it heralds a new generation of First Ladies, started by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. A divorcée, unmarried to François Hollande, active and independent, she does not give up her job as a journalist. This has triggered many strong reactions almost immediately, even though there are many other branches where political journalism can extend its power. The woman by the side of the new President is a modern woman inside-out, and it will be a necessity that the etiquette and attitudes of the Elysée will accommodate themselves. However, the mixing of genres must be avoided.

*The challenge of finding her place

The mixing of private and public spheres, as well as interference in political affairs have been just a few accusations the First Lady had to face after her support to the socialist dissident Olivier Falorni. Her tweet was definitely a mistake, but also symptomatic to the difficulties encountered by the First Lady until she finds her place next to the President. Despite this error, she should not hide now, but rather invent her own style and proclaim herself assertive outside politics, at least for the five years to come. She was already able to speak on the occasion of her visit to the French School in Chicago about the sidelines of the NATO summit, a cause close to her heart she intends to promote: equal opportunities for everyone.

Eagerly awaited, Valérie Trierweiler has been widely criticized in her first misstep, certainly regrettable but not irreparable. Her task for now is to find her place outside the political arena. She might be a little late on it, but the task will require a lot of time.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

The state of votes

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Valérie Trierweiler is wrong to believe she is free

Eve bourdillon|translated by: Eve bourdillon

Valérie Trierweiler should find her rightful place next to the new President

Constance Marécheau| translated by: Constance Marécheau

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