Johannesburg: France`s First Lady Valerie Trierweiler has sparked a political storm and embarrassed the Socialist party by extending her support to the rival of Ségolène Royal, President Francois Hollande`s ex.
The saga threatens to damage Hollande, who has been styling himself as a down-to-earth "president normal" but now faces charges from the right that animosity between his present and past girlfriends has turned his leadership of France into a celebrity soap opera worthy of the worst excesses of Nicolas Sarkozy`s highly public love life.
Trierweiler, or @valtrier - who was once dubbed as `Tweetweiler` for her use of the social network - tweeted: "Good luck to Olivier Falorni who has proved himself worthy, who has fought alongside the people of La Rochelle for so many years with selfless commitment."
Valerie Trierweiler`s good luck message on Twitter also put her at odds with her husband Hollande, who has declared his full support for the 58-year-old Socialist`s electoral bid.
Hollande was Royal`s unmarried partner for decades, is the father of her four children, and had stood at her side during her 2007 failed presidential bid even though he had been in a relationship with Trierweiler since 2005.
Reports of rivalry between the two women led to speculation, which Trierweiler denies, that the current First Lady ensured that Royal was airbrushed out of a film screened to Socialist faithful at Hollande`s January campaign launch.
Trierweiler, a twice-divorced 47-year-old journalist, tweeted on Tuesday that she wished "good luck" to Olivier Falorni, a Socialist dissident competing with Royal for a parliamentary seat for the western town of La Rochelle, News 24 reported.
The 57-year-old, who is not married to Trierweiler, has publicly thrown his weight behind Royal, writing that she is "the only candidate of the presidential majority who can be assured of my support".