Sarkozy bounces back with new girlfriend

Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:32am EST
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By Jon Boyle

PARIS (Reuters) - In politics, as in good comedy, timing is everything, and news that President Nicolas Sarkozy is dating Italian model turned singer Carla Bruni has raised a wry smile or three after a week of bad political headlines.

Accused of betraying human rights to win lucrative contracts during last week's visit by Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, it is Sarkozy's love life that now has tongues wagging and France's once cerebral media has joined in the rush to cover the "event."

Bruni was pictured with Sarkozy at the Disneyland attraction outside Paris at the weekend, barely two months since he became the first sitting French president to get divorced.

The whirlwind romance, which apparently began after they met at the Elysee late last month, has prompted a fresh outbreak of the media feeding frenzy surrounding Sarkozy's personal life that is fast becoming a facet of his presidency.

Critics queued up to complain the media-savvy president was using Bruni to regain the political initiative after the Gaddafi visit, once more appearing sexy, virile and in charge.

"His affair comes at a time when Sarkozy was humiliated by Gaddafi, who led him around by the nose. His image was greatly tarnished," psychiatrist Serge Hefez told the Le Parisien daily.

"And now, by a wave of the magic wand, he appears resplendent. He has become active, brilliant, seductive again."

In any event, it is an unlikely match.   Continued...

<p>Combination photo shows French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivering a speech in Abyme, Guadeloupe, March 22, 2007 and former supermodel Carla Bruni presenting a creation during French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier's 1996-97 Autumn/Winter ready-to-wear fashion show in Paris March 15, 1996. Sarkozy was photographed at the weekend with former supermodel turned singer Bruni, fuelling rumours of romance just two months after his divorce from his second wife. Pictures of Sarkozy and Bruni, a dark-haired blue-eyed Italian, visiting Disneyland Paris were splashed over the French newspapers on Monday and the couple are also expected to make the front page of several glossy magazines this week. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer and Jean-Christophe Kahn</p>