Royal-Hollande breakup casts shadow over Socialist gains

18th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 18, 2007 (AFP) - The much-publicised split between Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal and party leader Francois Hollande took the gloss Monday off the party's election gains.

PARIS, June 18, 2007 (AFP) - The much-publicised split between Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal and party leader Francois Hollande took the gloss Monday off the party's election gains.

Royal and Hollande, who have four children, confirmed they are separating as results came in from Sunday's legislative election. The left wing power couple featured prominently in newspaper headlines Monday.

Rumours of their rocky relationship had circulated for months and Royal announced the split, accusing her partner of having an affair, as she launched a campaign to take over the party leadership when Hollande steps down next year.

Hollande said the separation was a private matter that was "not caused by politics and will not have political consequences."

"I have always sought to separate politics, which must have principles, rules and foundations, from private life which must be protected," Hollande said in a radio interview.

"The Break-up" was the headline of the popular Le Parisien newspaper while the leftist Liberation quipped that election night was "full of surprises."

"After having pushed her former partner out the door of their family home, she now is planning to do the same thing by expelling him from his office as party boss," wrote Liberation.

Royal declined to specify when the separation took place but said she and the Socialist leader "remain on good terms. We talk to each other. There is mutual respect."

"I have asked Francois Hollande to leave our home, to pursue his love interest which is now laid out in books and newspapers and I wish him happiness," she said in an interview for a book to be released Wednesday.

Hollande's role in Royal's failed presidential campaign has been criticised and he has said he will stand down as the Socialist Party's first secretary next year. Royal confirmed in the book that she is a candidate to take over.

While she remains the Socialists' most popular politician, Royal is contested by senior figures in the party who blame her for losing the presidential race to Sarkozy.

Royal, 53, and Hollande, 52, have never married and have four children: Thomas, Clemence, Julien and Flora, aged between 22 and 14.

Initial reaction among party ranks appeared to be one of relief that the breakup was now out in the open.

The Socialist leader in the outgoing parliament Jean-Marc Ayrault said the "clarification on the political level is useful" and suggested the troubled relationship had affected morale among the rank-and-file.

"Sometimes we were wondering why there were problems in contacts between the party and the candidate" during the presidential campaign, said Ayrault.

"Actually, this did have an impact on politics and I regret this," said Socialist Claude Bartolone.

"We could see during the presidential campaign that a lack of communication at times between Segolene Royal and Francois Hollande created political problems."

"There was a sort of embarrassment," said Bartolone who described the couple's relationship as the "Bermuda Triangle of the Socialists."

"We took all the necessary detours to avoid it," said Bartolone.

 Royal announced her plans in a book by AFP journalists Christine Courcol and Thierry Masure, "Behind the Scenes of Defeat" ("Les Coulisses d'une Defaite"), which is to be published Wednesday.

Royal and Hollande met in 1978 while studying at the elite Ecole National d'Administration (ENA) in Paris and were considered leaders of the generation of left-wingers groomed in the 1980s and early 1990s under Socialist president Francois Mitterrand.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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