Perks of the office, apparently. That and some women have no standards whatsoever.
Women troubles are nothing new for Francois Hollande, to the bewilderment of those who can’t quite see what it is that attracts beautiful, talented females to France’s otherwise unloved president.
From the lecture halls of the elite Ecole National d’Administration (ENA) to the summit of the state, affairs of the heart have played a central role in Hollande’s political journey.
The next step in that journey comes on Tuesday afternoon, when Hollande is due to appear before more than 500 journalists and, the world expects, explain exactly what is going on in his private life.
With his long-term girlfriend, France’s First Lady Valerie Trierweiler having taken to a hospital bed with stress following the revelation of Hollande’s clandestine trysts with actress Julie Gayet, that will be no easy task.
But, according to those who know him well, it is the price Hollande has to pay for his personality.
He does not seem to be a serial philanderer, unlike his “hot bunny” predecessor Jacques Chirac. But it would appear that, when passion hits, it overwhelms him to the point of clouding his judgement — as it did when he thought he could get away with nightime visits to Gayet in a borrowed apartment just yards from the Elysee Palace.
“He is the kind of man who can fall in and out of love,” said Thierry Mandon, a Socialist deputy and long-term ally of the president. “It shows he is (as Hollande describes himself) a normal man, but if he is to be a normal president, he has to clarify his situation very quickly.”
It was at the ENA — a graduate college that is a kind of finishing school for France’s political elite — that he met Segolene Royal. The bright young things bonded over a common outlook and soon formed a political power couple that was to endure for more than 25 years and produce four children.
By the early 2000’s the pair were both established as heavyweight figures in the Socialist Party, but Hollande was to find himself eclipsed by his more glamorous partner. She became a high-profile minister and her greater popularity with both activists and voters enabled her to see off Hollande and her other rivals to secure the party’s nomination as its candidate for a presidential election she was to lose to Nicolas Sarkozy.
One of the great philosophers of our age has his own insights to this baffling mystery.