Hol­lande re­vives po­lit­i­cal duo with ex

Lesotho Times - - International -

Ms Royal “made me be­lieve for a long time that she was from Mar­tinique,” he said in a speech to lo­cal politi­cians of the French is­land, where Ms Royal lived for a few years as a child.

The joke prompted loud ap­plause by the au­di­ence — and know­ing smiles ex­changed be­tween the pres­i­dent and his min­is­ter.

Ms Royal’s po­si­tion is “rather in­con­gru­ous,” said Vanessa Sch­nei­der, a Le Monde jour­nal­ist and au­thor of a book called The Enig­matic Mr Hol­lande: In the Cor­ri­dors of the El­y­see.

“Clearly, they share rather great com­plic­ity. We feel that they have great plea­sure to see each other,” Sch­nei­der told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Away from pho­tog­ra­phers’ eyes, they kiss each other hello on the cheeks, in the French style, and chat a lit­tle bit be­fore Cabi­net meet­ings.

When­ever she wants to talk to the pres­i­dent, Ms Royal sim­ply sends him text mes­sages — a priv­i­lege shared by only a few close friends of Mr Hol­lande.

“She has a di­rect line to him. But at the same time, he’s not un­der her dom­i­na­tion: I at­tended some sit­u­a­tions where she made some de­mands and he an­swered no,” Ms Sch­nei­der said.

Polls rou­tinely show Ms Royal’s pop­u­lar­ity is much higher than Mr Hol­lande’s.

Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors ob­serve that the un­pop­u­lar Mr Hol­lande — who may seek a sec­ond term in 2017 — may try to use Ms Royal’s lever­age in the per­spec­tive of the pres­i­den­tial race.

She is es­pe­cially “very popular in cer­tain cat­e­gories of the left-wing po­lit­i­cal base: youth and work­ing-class peo­ple,” deputy­di­rec­tor of French poll in­sti­tute Ifop Fred­eric Dabi said. “She could be a real as­set.” — AP

French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois hol­lande (left) wel­comes ecol­ogy Min­is­ter Se­go­lene royal at the el­y­see Palace on 18 May.

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