News Column

France's First Lady Promises to Think Before She Tweets

July 16, 2012
Valerie Trierweiler

French President Francois Hollande's partner Valerie Trierweiler has promised to be more judicious in her use of Twitter, according to France's BFM TV Sunday.

"I'll twiddle my thumbs before tweeting," Trierweiler told the station late Saturday, referring to the furore unleashed by her last tweet on June 12, in which she took a swipe at Hollande's former partner Segolene Royal.

Trierweiler tweeted a message of support for Royal's political rival in the country's parliamentary elections, just after Hollande had endorsed the mother of his four children for a seat representing the city of La Rochelle.

Royal went on to lose the battle against Olivier Falorni, a dissident Socialist.

Trierweiler's tweet, while not considered decisive in the race, torpedoed Hollande's promise of strict sobriety in the Elysee.

During the week Le Point magazine quoted Hollande and Royal's son Thomas Hollande as saying the tweet had "destroyed the normal image" that his father "had constructed."

In a Bastille Day interview with TF1 and France 2 television Saturday Hollande spoke for the first time about the Tweetweiler affair, as it became known.

"I consider that private matters must be resolved in private," Hollande said, adding he had ordered those close to him to "scrupulously" respect his wishes.

Meanwhile, French media reacted sceptically Sunday to Hollande's performance in the interview.

In what was his first major interview since becoming president two months ago, Hollande swung between tough - on PSA Peugeot-Citroen's plans to cut 8,000 jobs - and evasive - on what spending cuts or tax hikes he planned to bring down France's bloated budget deficit.

The vehemence of his attack on PSA caused surprise.

Hollande accused France's biggest carmaker of having held back the announcement that it was closing a factory in Paris and cutting 8,000 jobs while his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy was still in power.

PSA's denial a year ago that the group was planning job cuts had been a "lie," he said. The restructuring plan was "unacceptable," he added, calling for the plan to be renegotiated.

Hollande's "non" to the plan was the front-page story in Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) and Le Parisien newspapers.

Both papers were sceptical about his attempts to reverse the course of events at a private company.

For the JDD, Hollande's tough talking on PSA recalled Sarkozy's approach, "always ready to pounce on the hot dossiers."

For Le Parisien, it was "hard to see how the state, which is not a shareholder in the lion brand (Peugeot), can block the necessary restructuring of a constructor which has been hit by falling sales in Europe and a well-known competitiveness deficit faced with international competition."

"He says the state won't accept it? I'm prepared to trust him but we'll need more than words," the paper quoted Lionel Champenois, a employee at PSA's threatened factory in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois, as saying.

PSA refused to publicly comment on Hollande's interview but senior executives were angered by his "lie" remark, according to Le Parisien.

One unnamed executive told the paper that PSA had kept both old and new governments fully briefed of its plans.

Pressed during the interview about how he intended to meet France's targets on deficit reduction while continuing to - officially at least - rule out an austerity plan, Hollande was evasive.

"There are 33 billion euros (40 billion dollars) to be found in 2013. We will find them," he said.

The leader of Hollande's Socialist Party, Martine Aubry, said Hollande had shown "determination and resolve."

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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