Carla Bruni denies influencing French president

Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:09am EST
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PARIS (Reuters) - France's first lady, model-turned-singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, has rejected accusations of influencing the President Nicolas Sarkozy's political decisions, saying he was "not a yes-man."

After French media published anonymous comments from members of Sarkozy's center-right UMP party criticizing her for supposedly passing on her left-leaning views, she retorted that she had no interest in politics.

"How can anyone imagine that my husband is a yes-man who lets himself be influenced!" the Italian-born Bruni-Sarkozy said in an interview with Friday's edition of Elle magazine.

"In a couple, each partner has personal influence over the other but I don't have any political influence on my husband. Fortunately, because that would be hell!"

Media reported that UMP members were upset by what they saw as a liberal artist's influence on the presidency. In particular, Bruni-Sarkozy was said to have persuaded the president to appoint Frederic Mitterrand, nephew of the late socialist President Francois Mitterrand, as culture minister.

Frederic Mitterrand last month found himself at the center of controversy for writing about his experiences as a sex tourist in Thailand.

"(Nicolas Sarkozy) asked my opinion on Frederic Mitterrand as well as that of other artist friends during lunch. All the opinions were positive! But he had already taken his decision," Bruni-Sarkozy said in the interview.

She said she had not foreseen the impact that marrying the president would have on her life as she had previously hardly known about politics, only briefly scanning the politics pages.

"I was interested in the presidential elections but in the way some people are interested in the football World Cup," she said.

Sarkozy wooed the photogenic chanson singer in a whirlwind romance after divorcing from his second wife, Cecilia. They married in February 2008, within months of meeting.

(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and Sophie Hardach; Editing by Jon Hemming)

<p>France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy listen to hospital staff as they visit the Paoli-Calmettes Institute in Marseille, November 2, 2009. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>