by William Pfaff
Hollande-Trierweiler Split and The Question of Marriage
The Hollande-Trierweiler passage in the rich history of French scandals has ended badly for both, contributing to morbid forces of disunion at work in contemporary French society.
Until the announcement - indeed the proclamation - was made last weekend by the President of the
But the French have been shaken by François Hollande's curt, 18-word termination of his relationship with the companion, who two years ago was "the woman of my life," and who recklessly claimed to be the "First Lady" of
The whole matter has taken a significant political turn with the unexpected and noisy anti-Hollande street demonstration that followed the president's statement. This protest was unanticipated and heterogeneous in composition and turned seriously violent.
Mr. Hollande's victory in the presidential election two years ago occurred in a context of economic crisis, divided ideologies and economic counsels, seemingly the most urgent issue requiring reexamination and reform. Instead, the Hollande priority was to respond to the most controversial demand of his electorate, same-sex marriage, affecting the role of families in society. This measure has passed in the legislature, together with legal provisions for adoption of children by same-sex couples (of either sex). Other controversial measures, not yet agreed, are proposed for state-financed sperm-donor conception and possibly for surrogate mothers).
These, of course, are no novelties, having been prominent demands not only in
This is conferred at the local "mairie," the municipal office in every commune in
The institution of single-sex marriage met a long-established demand from the Socialist electorate, and equally met the established outrage and objection of the major religions in
Mr. Hollande's government is now talking about "gender theory" (that sexual identity is socially imposed) in infant classes, where little boys will be encouraged to play with dolls and little girls with construction sets (one presumes that a line is drawn at GI Joe and toy guns for girls).
The controversy instead has reawakened French religious-secular, ideological, and regional and class hostilities believed long healed since the Revolution and the church-state settlement of 1905, establishing state secularism and religious freedom in
Together with the unending economic crisis and the President's failure thus far to produce a successful economic reform program, or to inspire popular (not to speak of business) confidence that he is capable of producing one, Mr. Hollande has unintentionally evoked a bitterness among the French, widely commented upon by foreign observers.
The president's glacial dismissal of the "official" First Lady - eighteen words long, including three uses of the personal pronoun "I" - will do him no good with the French electorate. It has been widely noted that the form of his statement follows exactly the constitutional phrases to be used in the dismissal of a government minister. "I make known that I have terminated [the life I have shared in common with Valérie Trierweiler]...." The veteran French political advisor, and longtime head of the