Segolene Royal splits from partner

17th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 17, 2007 (AFP) - Defeated French Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal has split from her partner, party leader Francois Hollande, accusing him in a new book of having an affair.

PARIS, June 17, 2007 (AFP) - Defeated French Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal has split from her partner, party leader Francois Hollande, accusing him in a new book of having an affair.

"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," Royal said in an interview for the book to be published Wednesday.

Excerpts were released as Socialists celebrated a better than expected performance in France's legislative election on Sunday. Speculation about the couple has been rife for months.

Royal did not name the other woman in Hollande's life but said she and the Socialist leader "remain on good terms. We talk to each other. There is mutual respect."

Royal asked that Hollande no longer be described as her "partner" because, she said: "That is no longer the case."

Royal, 53, and Hollande, 52, had been together for more than 25 years and have four children: Thomas, Clemence, Julien and Flora, aged between 22 and 14.

But on top of their personal split, the couple are also set to become political rivals.

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. Royal is a candidate to take over.

Royal lost to right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy in May in her bid to become France's first woman president.

But the party was heartened by its surprise comeback in France's legislative elections, increasing its National Assembly share from 149 seats to more than 200.

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.

In the book, Royal confirmed that she will be a candidate to replace Hollande as Socialist Party leader.

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

Royal and Hollande met in 1978 while studying at the elite Ecole National d'Administration (ENA) in Strasbourg and said they were attracted by their shared leftist ideals.

They were leaders of the generation of left wingers groomed in the 1980s and early 1990s under Socialist president Francois Mitterrand.

Royal held minor cabinet posts in the 1990s but became a national figure in 2005 when she declared she would run for the presidency, earning at first a scornful reaction from party barons but later respect for the way she held the left wing vote together in the presidential election.

But there were recurring rumours about the couple during the campaign for the presidency but Royal, in a book released at the end of March, denied any breakup, saying that they still lived together.

Royal even suggested in the earlier book that the pair had discussed plans for a "romantic" wedding in Tahiti.

But another book released last month claimed that her relationship with Hollande was in crisis, prompting Royal and Hollande to lodge a suit in court for 150,000 euros (200,000 dollars) in damages.

The squabbling had also sparked complaints from the rank and file, notably from deputy Manuel Valls who remarked this month that he was "fed up" with the way that Socialist politics were "revolving around the life of a couple."

France is seeing a new openness in the private lives of its politicians.

President Sarkozy is a divorcee who has also had high profile problems with his wife Cecilia. She briefly left him last year to go to New York with an advertising executive.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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