"I won't keep quiet any more," says French first lady

PARIS Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:01am IST

Valerie Trierweiler, companion of France's President Francois Hollande, gives dictation to school children in support of ELA, European Leucodystrophie Association, at a primary school she attended as a child in Angers, western France, October 18, 2013. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Valerie Trierweiler, companion of France's President Francois Hollande, gives dictation to school children in support of ELA, European Leucodystrophie Association, at a primary school she attended as a child in Angers, western France, October 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stephane Mahe

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PARIS (Reuters) - French first lady Valerie Trierweiler, who has avoided politics since she caused a stir with controversial comments during an election, said on Friday she would no longer keep her political views under wraps.

Trierweiler adopted a more traditional pose for a first lady after causing an uproar last year when she publicly backed a rival to President Francois Hollande's former partner, Segolene Royal, during a legislative election.

Trierweiler, who is not married to Hollande, kept her job as a journalist for the glossy magazine Paris Match after he took power in May, 2012, but has avoided writing about politics or speaking about it in public.

"I won't keep quiet anymore," Trierweiler said at the end of a speech as she awarded a prize named after Danielle Mitterrand, the outspoken wife of former Socialist president Francois Mitterrand.

Trierweiler praised Mitterrand as a woman who spoke her mind, did not pose for cameras and stood up for her strong left-wing political views in public.

"She was not afraid to carry high the values of the left," said Trierweiler. "She would not be gagged, she wasn't afraid of the word 'politics' - that's what I've learned from this great lady. And that's why she's my model today."

Hollande and Trierweiler have been in a couple since the mid-2000s. Hollande had four children with Royal, who ran for president against Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007 and lost. Trierweiler has three children of her own from previous relationships.

Hollande had rebuked Trierweiler for expressing support for Socialist Olivier Falorni against Royal in a tweet, which unleashed speculation in gossip magazines that she was jealous of Royal. Royal lost the election.

Trierweiler accompanies Hollande - whose approval rating has hit an all-time low amid enduring economic gloom, according to a poll this week - on all his presidential travels, including a trip to Israel last week.

"Danielle Mitterrand had opinions," she said in her speech. "She was a first lady who refused to be submissive ... Even when that meant showing that she disagreed with President Mitterrand."

(Reporting By Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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