French president François Hollande will be aiming to deflect the glare away from his private life and onto his plans for the country’s economy during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
The annual, start-of-year event is Hollande’s first public appearance since allegations he had been unfaithful to his long-term partner, Valérie Trierweiler, were published.
After hearing the allegations, Trierweiler was hospitalised, supposedly in a state of shock.
France doesn’t have an official “First Lady” title, but Hollande’s partner resides at and has her own office in the Elysée Palace and accompanies him on official visits.
Following the president’s alleged affair with actress Julie Gayet, questions are being raised about Trierweiler’s status.
Hollande has never married, but left former partner Segolène Royal, who is said to be close to Gayet, to be with his current partner.
A magazine article, published last week, showed a photo of a man said to be the president visiting a flat in Paris at the same time as Gayet.
Strict privacy laws hang over the French media. While Hollande has not denied the affair, he has protested at the invasion of his privacy.
Opinion polls suggest Hollande is one of the most unpopular presidents France has ever known; many French people are more concerned about his plans to boost their country’s economy and lower unemployment, than the details of his private life.
According to euronews’ correspondent in Paris:
“The scandal of the alleged affair with actress Julie Gayet has come at a time when François Hollande’s popularity was slowly starting to climb from a record low to where it was when he started. For the French president, this is undoubtedly the most difficult moment of the first 20 months of his mandate.”
Tuesday’s press conference has been long-planned and will aim to “remain a major political event”, according to the president’s spokesman, David Assouline.