Jan. 13 - French President Francois Hollande's New Year's address risks being overshadowed by allegations of a love affair, although the French public appears indifferent to scandal. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~****~ French President Francois Hollande and Valerie Trierweiler in happier times. Now the French President who failed to keep a promise to the nation to halt rising unemployment is dealing with media allegations of a secret love affair. On Friday, a celebrity magazine purportedly showed pictures of a night time visit by Hollande to a mistress. Those allegations risk stealing the show Tuesday, when he delivers the traditional start-of-year news conference. Hollande's office complained of a breach of privacy but issued no denial. His official partner, Trierweiler, was hospitalized hours after the magazine hit news-stands. Her spokesman said she needed quote: "rest." (SOUNDBITE) (French) PARISIAN WOMAN, NADEGE, SAYING: "No because my opinion is very negative in terms of who he is and what he does. But that for me is his personal business and what matters to me is what he does to France. After that his private life - what does it matter?" (SOUNDBITE) (French) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN, SAYING: "No, it doesn't surprise me coming from politicians. It's always been like that." Political science professor Christian Delporte told Reuters Hollande should come clean. (SOUNDBITE) (French) POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR AND MEDIA ANALYST, CHRISTIAN DELPORTE, SAYING: "It's important for Francois Hollande that this affair does not drag on, that it doesn't take up the headlines for a long time. And that's why it's important for him to close the episode with a clear, neat, and precise response, but which does not in its turn feed the controversy and the press articles." Polls already show Hollande is the most unpopular president in France's modern history for his failure to tackle unemployment and a sense that he lacks authority.