Monday, 7 January 2008

French president to marry supermodel

The French press reported today that President Nicolas Sarkozy is going to marry the celebrity model Carla Bruni in February, just two months after they met.

French media first breathlessly reported the budding relationship in December when the two made a highly visable trip to Euro Disneyland. The relationship is all the more interesting because Sarkozy was just divorced by his wife Cecilia in October. At that time the public also learned that the marriage had been effectively over throughout the presidential election but it was kept a secret for fear of how it would affect the vote.

The Elysée Palace refused to comment yesterday on the news, but Bruni's mother, Marisa Borini, told the Italian press last week that President Sarkozy had asked her for her daughter's hand.

Ms. Bruni has had a prolific former love life, with past lovers including Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton.

There are signs that the high-profile and glitzy relationship may have political ramifications for Sarkozy as it appears to be offending some of his older and more conservative supporters. An opinion poll in the newspaper Le Parisien said the president's approval rating has now fallen below 50 percent for the first time since he was elected, largely resulting from a significant fall in support from older voters, who had strongly supported him in the election.

The president's very public courtship of his model girlfriend has been seen as especially unseemly given his inability so far to deliver on his campaign promises to tackle the slumping French economy. As he has been photographed in several exotic locations over the past month with the stunning younger woman, the French economy continues to whether predicitons of further slowdown for the coming year.

Perhaps to whether the storm, Sarkozy is expected to explain the relationship tomorrow at a two-hour meeting with the media at the Elysée Palace. But he may have his work cut out for him in combating a potential PR problem. Already his ex-wife Cecilia is preparing a book about her time with Sarkozy to be published soon, and the details may not be flattering.

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