Newspaper article International New York Times

A Dilemma of Marriage for Hollande

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Dilemma of Marriage for Hollande

Article excerpt

President Francois Hollande's love affair with the actress Julie Gayet has drawn considerable attention to the fact that he is not married.

It may not be as juicy as Closer, the weekly gossip magazine that broke the story about President Francois Hollande's love affair with the actress Julie Gayet.

And unlike the mini-series at the Elysee Palace, the report this month on France's overall married state was a snapshot in time, a year-end summary of the number of French couples who opted for marriage and those who chose the looser civil union known as the PACS. In 2012, the last year with statistics for both kinds of partnerships, the ratio was three marriages for every two PACS (245,930 and 160,200 respectively). In 2013, the number of marriages -- 300,000 in 2000 -- dropped to 231,000: the figure would have been lower without the 7,000 same-sex marriages registered under a much- contested law that took effect last May.

The French statistical agency Insee has yet to publish the number of PACS in 2013, but the trend remains clear: Fewer French couples (except same-sex couples) are getting married every year. That includes the president himself, who isn't married to Valerie Trierweiller, the scorned woman in the current affair, and wasn't married to Segolene Royal, his longtime partner and the mother of his four children.

As Mr. Hollande keeps insisting, these are personal choices that don't concern anyone else. To some extent, that's true: In 2012, French voters paid little attention to the Socialist candidate's unmarried status, and didn't blink when Ms. Trierweiller moved into the Elysee Palace as the president's "companion." The president and his first lady didn't even opt for a PACS.

But even after Mr. Hollande announced on Saturday that he had put an end to his relationship with Ms. Trierweiller, the status of a presidential companion remained a subject of considerable fascination. No matter how much the mainstream media tiptoed around Mr. Hollande's domestic dilemma, ever mindful of France's strict privacy laws, it is clear that the French are following the affair closely (even as they tell pollsters it's none of their business. …

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