17 Jan 2014

Will it be Hollande v Sarkozy again?

Few Parisians have better connections within the French political establishment than Jacques Séguéla, once an adviser to President Francois Mitterrand, advertising strategist to Socialist election campaigns stretching back decades and the man who introduced Nicolas Sarkozy to Carla Bruni (both pictured below) at a dinner party at his home in 2007.

The 79 year old Séguéla still considers the Sarkozys close personal friends. What, then, could he tell me about the former French president’s take on the Francois Hollande affair and the complicated love lives of both men?

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“This is the signature theme of Hollande,” Séguéla says of the affair when I meet him in his office overlooking the River Seine, “just as ‘bling bling’ was Sarkozy’s.”

But doesn’t Hollande’s unpopularity set the scene for a Sarkozy comeback as French president, I ask?

“He’s always been clear, ‘I am preparing, I have my teams in place’,” he says with a forthrightness which surprises me, given that most indications of Sarkozy’s intentions have come from anonymous “friends” quoted in the French press.

“‘But if three things align in the stars – if Hollande bungles his presidency, if this (economic) crisis continues,  if the French people want me – if that happens, I will be there to do better. If the crisis ends, I will no longer be needed’.

“This failure is adding to Sarkozy’s well of support. All Sarkozy’s ratings are high. It all depends on the economy. If Sarkozy has not declared (his intentions) by the end of this year, then he will not do so (at all).”


“Sarkozy acted correctly, legally and morally, during his separation,” he says, contrasting this with Hollande’s desertion of  his partner, Valerie Trierweiler.

“His wife (Cecilia) fell in love..she made the first move. His wife slammed the door on him,  she didn’t vote for him…then she went off with the love of her life.”

Séguéla urges Hollande “to marry whomever he chooses, or he is in denial”.

More than 50 per cent of French voters are women and what will they make of it? “All women of 50 or over have either been betrayed by their husbands or know someone who has…this leaves painful memories.”

He tells me he’s also worried that the affair “will not be accepted abroad, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world”.

And how are Sarkozy and Carla Bruni getting on?

“I dined with them a few weeks back and it is as strong now as it was on that first day,” Séguéla says proudly of his matchmaking.  “It was love at first sight – I saw it with my own eyes.”

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