14 Jul 2012

The French president, the tweet and ‘La Rottweiler’

A feud involving the French president’s live-in girlfriend, his former partner and his eldest son overshadows France’s Bastille Day celebrations.

The row centres on a tweet sent last month, during legislative elections, by Hollande’s companion Valerie Trierweiler in support of the political opponent of his ex-partner Segolene Royal.

Royal – the mother of the president’s four children – was defeated in her bid for a parliamentary seat, having also been defeated by Nicolas Sarkozy top the presidency in 2007.

Widely criticized as a vindictive move, the tweet went viral and dominated news programmes across France.

French media have nicknamed the president’s girlfriend “La Rottweiler” following the tweet.

Francois Hollande is expected to break his silence about the family feud that has riveted the media during a television interview on Saturday – tradition-steeped Bastille Day when a military parade and an interview by the chief of state about French policy at home and abroad is standard.


The presidential Elysee Palace on Friday confirmed reports that Hollande would talk about “tweetgate,” as the media call the affair if – as is almost certain – he is asked about it during the broadcast.

According to behind the scenes reports in the media, both Hollande and his children were furious, but all sides moved into a damage control operation and kept the feud under wraps.

Trierweiler has since kept a low profile. She was notably absent when Hollande visited the Queen this week in London.

The Twitter account of Hollande’s eldest son Thomas reads discreetly: “I don’t count on tweeting for the moment.”

A low profile was maintained until this week when the 27-year-old Thomas broke his silence, speaking out against his father’s companion’s actions to the French newspaper Le Point, published on Wednesday.


“I knew that something could come from (Valerie) one day, but not such a big knock. It’s mind-blowing,” he was quoted as saying.

“It upset me for my father. He really hates it when his private life is spoken about,” he said. Then he added what many were already thinking: “It destroyed the “normal” image that he’d built up.”

Despite those efforts to water down the remarks, “tweetgate” still dominates French media. Son Thomas’ remarks are thought to have pushed his father into speaking out about a feud now set to overshadow the Bastille Day celebrations.

Since the Le Point article, Trierweiler has been spotted by her man’s side in a clear show of unity. French media reported that Hollande allowed diners to take photographs during an intimate dinner with her at a swish Paris restaurant on Wednesday night. Trierweiler is also set to accompany him in engagements this weekend and next week.