Far-right leader hints at Sarkozy marital troubles
PARIS, April 18, 2007 (AFP) - French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen alluded on Wednesday to rumours of marital troubles between right-wing presidential frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Cecilia.
“I am pretty surprised that the press is not curious these days about Mrs Sarkozy, who could become France’s first lady,” Le Pen said in an interview, four days ahead of the first round of voting.
Le Pen alleged in the interview that “Paris is abuzz” with rumours about the couple, and that it would be a sign of “normal curiosity” for the press to take an interest.
Sarkozy’s relationship with Cecilia made headlines when the couple split up for several months early last year. They were reunited in the spring of 2006, but Cecilia has been noticeably absent from Sarkozy’s side during the campaign.
“I see that reverential fear sparks caution in people who usually have no qualms in launching rumours, even baseless ones,” Le Pen told RMC radio and BFM-TVM television.
Cecilia, 48, has been closely associated with her husband’s rise to fame, acting as his advisor and the head of his private office.
But Sarkozy, 52, has said little about the role his wife of 11 years, with whom he has a son, Louis, would play if he is elected. A second round is set for May 6.
“People elect a candidate, they do not elect a family,” Sarkozy said last week.
“If I am elected, my wife will play a role, that’s obvious,” he said, adding that he would wait until after the election to clarify what that role might entail.
Cecilia attended Sarkozy’s formal selection by the ruling Union for a Popular Movement in January, but has played no public role in his campaign, although Sarkozy’s staff say she drops in on his Paris headquarters each week.
Asked about Cecilia’s absence from his side early this month, Sarkozy replied: “When we saw too much of her, I was reproached for it. Now that we have drawn the lessons from the past, I am asked questions.”
Sarkozy publicly admitted in a television interview last May that he was going through marital problems, after French media reported on the details of Cecilia’s affair with an adverstising executive.
Although the French press traditionally keeps a respectful distance from the private lives of politicians, gossip tabloids have justified their coverage of Sarkozy’s marital woes, saying he had used his marriage as an asset by posing for regular magazine articles.
Subject: French news