Paris’ worst-kept secret has been confirmed: French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is expected to give birth as French President Nicolas Sarkozy begins his campaign for presidential re-election later this year.
Sarkozy’s 82-year-old father announced to the German newspaper Bild: “I’m glad to be having a grandchild,” adding that neither the French president nor his wife wanted to know the sex of the child, “but I’m sure it’s a girl who’ll be as beautiful as Carla.”
For weeks Bruni had refused to confirm or deny a rumored pregnancy, pointedly telling one newspaper: “My lips are sealed to protect something.”
This week when she appeared on the TV channel TF1 the presenter cryptically told her he would not ask about her personal life, but would like to “congratulate” her.
She giggled and congratulated him back.
Woody Allen fueled rumors last week when he announced at the Cannes film festival that he was sorry Bruni, who has a role in his new film Midnight In Paris, couldn’t be there but was “very happy for her” at such a marvelous time.
One French celebrity magazine reported last week that Bruni had gone to the store H&M accompanied by a bodyguard and spent 300 euros (US$430) on maternity clothes, including jeans with expandable waistlines.
She had recently let slip after a newspaper interview: “I’m having problems doing up my trousers.”
The Elysee has not commented on the Bild story and has deliberately not made any official statement, wanting to avoid accusations that Sarkozy could be using his private life to win an election.
If Bruni is pregnant, she will give birth in the autumn, months before the French presidential vote in April and May next year. Pollsters had predicted a baby, could give the unpopular president a five-point bounce in the opinion polls.
Sarkozy, who is already a grandfather, is keen to avoid accusations that he could be using a pregnancy and newborn baby as a cynical campaign ploy to boost his image. He would be the first French president to become a father while in office.
However, if he is seen to be deliberately pushing his private life on to the public arena, he could alienate an electorate sickened by his public display of the whirlwind courtship with Bruni, whom he married in 2008, three months after meeting her.
That the pregnancy confirmation came from Sarkozy’s father, Pal, in a German newspaper did not mean it had been officially sanctioned.
The president has had a difficult relationship with his father, who divorced his mother when Sarkozy was young. Sarkozy once said the only thing he lacked in life was a father.
Guests at a recent dinner with Bruni’s mother, Marisa Bruni Tedeschi, in Italy said she had hinted that a new baby was on the way, according to La Stampa newspaper. Bruni had often said she would like to have a child with the president.