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Sarkozy’s love life

December 20, 2011

French president Nicolas Sarkozy is doing rather well. The Euro crisis is hardly his fault and he’s repaired the alliance with America and made a start on cutting the bloated French public sector, not to mention being the first French leader since Napoleon to have won a war (Libya) and sired a child in office.  He even managed to miss the birth. The French should be proud of him but he’s languishing in the polls. Perhaps his love life is too complicated even for them.

It’s in his genes; his feckless Hungarian father Pal Sarkozy had four wives, countless affairs and has just written a book describing himself as an insatiable sex addict. Nicolas has been more circumspect so far, but not much. He married his first wife, by whom he has two sons, in 1982 just before his first big break, getting elected mayor of Neuilly. One of the mayor’s duties was to officiate at important marriages, but Sarkozy went a step further – he also got off with the bride. In 1983 he paired off a 51 year old TV chat show host with a heavily pregnant 26-year-old former model, Cecilia. Five years later he left his wife and shacked up with her. Although it took another eight years before he got around to marrying Cecilia, he later claimed to have fallen for her at the earlier wedding.

She bore him a third child but soon gave trouble. She didn’t like politics and in 2005 ran off with an events organiser Richard Attias. Sarkozy persuaded her back to play the loyal wife for his presidential campaign, but she wasn’t happy. After his victory, he got into trouble for trying to placate her with expensive holidays and glamorous non-jobs. When he sent her off to “negotiate” the release of the Belgian nurses imprisoned in Libya on trumped up charges of infecting children with HIV, she almost scuppered the whole delicate process, before upsetting everyone by claiming credit. Soon she’d run back to Attias.

Perhaps she was upset by Sarkozy’s new squeeze; he certainly took no time at all to hit on the glamorous and randy Carla Bruni. Bruni, the daughter of an Italian tyre magnate is hardly a typical presidential wife. She claims monogamy bores her, and has had reported affairs with Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and a previous French Prime minister Laurent Fabius although, as far as we know, none overlapping with Sarkozy.

She also considerably complicated his relationship with a key ally, the glamorous philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. Levy also came from Neuilly, and his somewhat surprising support had usefully broadened Sarkozy’s appeal in many political battles – sophisticated leftish musings contrasting well with Sarkozy’s rough striving. Unfortunately, some time back, Bruni had taken a break from popstars and had an affair with Levy’s friend, a millionaire called Jean-Paul Endthoven. No problem with that, so far as we know. But when she moved on to Endthoven’s son Raphael, who was married to Levy’s daughter Justine at the time, that wasn’t so good. Justine, had a nervous breakdown, took to drugs and wrote a best-seller, Nothing Serious, about the whole business.

Unsurprisingly Levy withdrew support for a time, and their relationship remains sticky. Earlier this year Levy was a key figure persuading Sarkozy to side with the Libyan rebels, but you can’t help wondering if he really intended to entangle him in a tricky foreign war. Who cares? It’s turned out OK so far.

Sarkozy is due to stand for re-election in 2012.  He’s miles behind in the polls, but let’s hope he pulls it off.  Not just for his policies, but for his interesting love life.

Jim Thornton

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