The Mess France Finds Itself In

I have always said that people invariably deserve the government they elect.

The French were desperate to get rid of Nicolas Sarkozy, who by and large was more credible a leader and politician than the incumbent Francois Hollande, who messed up things the moment he entered the Élysée Palace. His economic policies were doomed to spell disaster in a world where incentive is the key to prosperity and punitive taxes are a recipe for stagnation and discontent.

Now that his popularity is at its lowest ebb, he looks pathetically discordant, rabid that his latest dalliance with a young actress has hit the headlines – and made him look a fool and a libertine in the eyes of people who believe that a president should lead by example.

To defend what is indefensible, hiding behind his right to privacy as a citizen, is in his case a step too far and in the wrong direction. He will not win sympathy in the long-term, despite the fact that his live-in rottweiler is apparently hated by the French public for her arrogance and misconduct vis-à-vis Hollande’s ex-partner and the mother of his four children, whom she unceremoniously ousted.

Her alleged overdose of pills is but a manoeuvre to gain favourable publicity now that Hollande is skidding badly, as more revelations of the affair come to light. These will not easily wash with a cynical media, vociferous in its pursuit of juicy details about a foolish president whose sexual exploits have intoxicated an entire nation.

Bizarrely, it is now reported that he was introduced to Julie Gayet by his former partner in 2011, before he clinched the presidency. Other reports said that their affair started properly in 2012 after Mr Hollande was reintroduced to her by his son. Th0mas Hollande, twenty-nine, the eldest of his four children, organised a lunch in 2012 after his new girlfriend, Joyce Jonathan, a pop star whose friends included Miss Gayet, asked if the actress could come along to discuss the arts. It all started then.

What a weird mishmash of a situation that can on the face of it only happen in France. The acceptance of mistresses as a Gallic phenomenon of marital tolerance has never come to the fore with such transparency. A president in any other nation would be booted out as a result of public outrage. Not so in La Belle France.

I wonder whether we should celebrate in envy or pretend to be horrified. Any comment on this score would be appreciated.

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