The former lover of French President Francois Hollande has threatened to publish text messages he sent her, proving that he made fun of the poor, the Daily Mail has reported.
Valerie Trierweiler has published a book in which she alleges that Hollande called poor people “sans dents” (the toothless), a claim he denies.
The seven year relationship between the couple came to an end in January when Hollande’s affair with actress Julie Gayet came to light. Trierweiler attempted suicide following the revelations, and says Hollande visited her in hospital where she was recovering – to tell her that the relationship was over.
His actions prompted her to write Merci Pour Ce Moment (Thank You For This Moment), which shot to the top of the Amazon.fr bestseller charts upon its release in August this year, and quickly ran out of stock in most bookshops.
In her book, she wrote “He presented himself as a man who disliked the rich. In reality, the president doesn’t like the poor. In private, this man – the left-winger – calls them “the toothless” and is so pleased at how funny he is.”
It is an accusation that Hollande denies. Speaking at the NATO summit in Wales this month, he said “I won’t allow to be brought into question something I have stood for all my life… and notably the human relationship I have with the weakest, the most modest, the humblest, the poorest, because I am here to serve them and they are my reason for existence.”
And in an interview with a French magazine, Hollande said that the charge was a “hurtful lie”, adding “Yes, I’ve met people facing the worst difficulties, worn out by life. They had trouble looking after their teeth. It’s a sign of the worst poverty.”
However, Trierweiler insists that what she says is true. She has told friends that she has text messages from the President in which he mocked the poor, and that she was willing to reveal them in court if necessary.
Hollande is France’s most unpopular leader since the Second World War, with a poll taken last Thursday by IFOP for Le Figaro showing that nearly two thirds of French voters want to see him resign before his term ends in 2017. A quarter of socialist voters said that they want to see the left wing leader go.
His credibility has been dealt a serious blow by Trierweiler’s book as she paints him as an uncaring leader and a member of the ‘caviar left’, France’s term for ‘champagne socialists’. In the magazine interview Hollande spoke of his grandparents – a poor tailor and teacher from a family of peasants. But he said nothing about his bourgeois upbringing in a well to do household in Rouen as the son of a doctor.
During his election campaign Hollande was photographed out shopping, but Trierweiler dismissed this as a publicity stunt, writing “He has no idea how much anything costs.”
In the last few days Hollande has flown to Baghdad in an attempt to shore up support for his government, which faces a vote of confidence in Paris tomorrow. Although the government is expected to win the vote, it may reveal splits in Hollande’s Socialist Party, at a time when Prime Minister Valls has warned that the National Front is “at the gates of power”.
Speaking to Parliament, Valls said “this is not the moment to call into question the legitimacy of the president, elected by the French for five years. I do not think this is the moment to call our institutions into question.”
Forty Socialists parliamentarians have threatened to abstain thanks to what they see as a pro-business lurch to the right in recent weeks.