PARIS (Reuters) - Beyond movie star looks and sunglasses, the woman who takes over as France’s first lady next Tuesday is fast making her mark as a feisty character who some media outlets are already dubbing the Iron Lady.
Valerie Trierweiler, a Paris Match reporter, limited herself for the past year to accompanying Francois Hollande on campaign sorties, and looked mildly intimidated when the president-elect lured her onstage for a kiss after his May 6 election victory.
Ever since, the 47-year-old has shown a much more assertive streak, notably when she escorted an unwelcome politician out of the door when he turned up at a victory celebration at Socialist Hollande’s Paris offices on Wednesday.
That sparked a flurry of headlines heralding the arrival of a “Dame de Fer”, though she bears little resemblance to the original Iron Lady, the name given to Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s prime minister from 1979 to 1990.
The politician she sent packing was Julien Dray, a Socialist who infuriated Hollande’s campaign team days before the runoff vote by throwing a party in a converted sex shop where guests included the disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist former finance minister, was the favorite to become France’s next president until his New York arrest last May on sex assault charges, now dropped, that ended his International Monetary Fund career and his political ambitions.
Trierweiler also took to Twitter this week to tell journalists to stop besieging the Paris apartment block where she and Hollande live.
She has at times shown irritation with swarming camera crews too, even on the night of Hollande’s election win.
Trierweiler, who is not married to Hollande but has been his partner for several years, hit the headlines again this week when a well-known commentator was fired from a leading radio station after posting an insulting Twitter message about her.
Le Figaro daily said Trierweiler told it she had in no way sought the dismissal but that, on the contrary, she “took full responsibility” for shunting Dray out of Hollande’s offices.
Trierweiler has given a string of newspaper interviews in recent days where she has stressed that she wants to remain a working mother and has no intention of limiting herself solely to the role of “second fiddle, first lady”.
The twice-divorced mother of three teenagers she had before she met Hollande will take over next Tuesday from Carla Bruni, the singer and former supermodel who married outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy just months after he won power in May 2007.