When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Society

The Family Values Of The French Presidential Election

Nicolas Sarkozy has children from three different women. His challenger for France's presidency, François Hollande had four kids with a former candidate, but they never wed, then split. Struggling with monogamy, disdaining hypocrisy, reveling in

Hollande/Royal (2007), Bruni/Sarkozy (2009)
Hollande/Royal (2007), Bruni/Sarkozy (2009)
Joëlle Kuntz

PARIS - When François Hollande delivered his victory speech following his win in last Sunday's first round French presidential election, his new partner, Valerie Trierweiler, was there to support him. But on France's TV stations, there was another important woman in his life supporting him: Segolene Royal, his partner for nearly 30 years and the mother of his children.

It's been said that despite her numerous marriages, Liz Taylor only had one real love of her life: Richard Burton. Segolene and François may be heading down that same road. The two French politicians seem to be stuck with each other no matter what they do. And what they do is hardly ordinary: they've now each made the runoff as the Socialist candidate for the French presidency: Royal in 2007 and Hollande this time around. For their four kids, the Elysee palace is close. Their mother came very close to moving there in 2007 before losing to Nicolas Sarkozy. Their father may take up residence in the Elysee very soon.

There's something particularly French about this political partnership between a former non-married couple in which both partners were candidates to the presidency, as well as rivals in the same presidential race. Indeed, it's hard to imagine seeing this kind of spectacle elsewhere. In Great Britain, marriage and the picture of a united and happy family are prerequisites for political success. And in the United States, where marital hypocrisy is established as a system? Such a peculiar partnership would be unthinkable.

But in France, neither Royal nor Hollande believed their parental status could be seen as a liability for their presidential ambitions. As long as leaders meet a basic level of moral decency, their personal lives attract neither praise nor criticism. Being a good husband or a good father, qualities put forward by both Tony Blair and David Cameron in the United Kingdom, wouldn't bring any political benefit in France. Recently, France's incumbent, President Nicolas Sarkozy, actually addressed his failure at keeping his now ex-wife Cecilia by his side during the 2007 campaign.

Not trying to be role models

In France, matters of the heart – and the body – are either a secret or a show. They only become a scandal when they cross the implicit limits of a mostly liberal code. In France's presidential runoff, both candidates have been wounded by love, and then cured – by the likes of Valerie and Carla. They aren't trying to be role models. Instead, they are building step by step life solutions that fit their needs – all under the watchful gaze of the French public.

If François Hollande becomes president, First Lady Valerie won't have the same last name. Another French exception. Her three children from a previous marriage will be part of the family dinners at the Elysee palace, along with Hollande's four with Royal.

Likewise, when Sarkozy was sworn in back in 2007, what the public saw was a modern family. His two sons from his first marriage were standing side-by-side with the two daughters Cecilia has from her marriage. The son they had together, Louis, stood with Cecilia. In 2012, Louis is now playing with Carla Bruni's son from a previous marriage and with the baby girl she had with Sarkozy.

France's presidential clan is no longer afraid to show that it's just like any other family: complicated, with wounds to heal, joy to share, and always struggling to make things work better.

Read more from Le Temps in French

Photo - Marie-Lan Nguyen / Pete Souza

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

Capitol Riot, Brazil Style? The Specter Of Violence If Bolsonaro Loses The Presidency

Brazilian politics has a long history tainted with violence. As President Jair Bolsonaro threatens to not accept the results if he loses his reelection bid Sunday, the country could explode in ways similar to, or even worse, than the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol after Donald Trump refused to accept his defeat.

Supporters of Brazil presidential candidates Bolsonaro and Lula cross the streets of Brasilia with banners ahead of the first round of the elections on Oct. 2.

Angela Alonso

-Analysis-

SÂO PAULO — Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro delivered a message to his nation this year on the anniversary of its independence day, September 7. He recalled what he saw as the nation’s good times, and bad, and declared: “Now, 2022, history may repeat itself. Good has always triumphed over evil. We are here because we believe in our people and our people believe in God.”

It was a moment that’s typical of how this president seeks to challenge the democratic rules. Bolsonaro has been seen as part of a new populist global wave. Ahead of Sunday's first round of voting, the sitting president is trailing in the polls, and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva could even tally more than 50% to win the race outright and avoid an Oct. 30 runoff. Bolsonaro has said he might not accept the results of the race, which could spark violence from his supporters.

However, Brazil has a tradition of political violence. There is a national myth that the political elite prefer negotiation and avoid armed conflicts. Facts do not support the myth. If it did all major political change would have been peaceful: there would have been no independence war in 1822, no civil war in 1889 (when the republic replaced the monarchy) and, even the military coup, in 1964, would have been bloodless.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ