Thursday, January 18, 2007

Beau Jest

Segolene says it's no laughing matter:

PARIS, Jan 18, 2007 (AFP) - Segolene Royal, the Socialist frontrunner for France's April presidential election, Thursday suspended one of her spokesman after he slighted her partner with a joke.

Arnaud Montebourg "is suspended from his functions, he will not be speaking in my name for a month," Royal told AFP.

Montebourg, responding to a presenter on a light-hearted television show Wednesday who asked what Royal's weaknesses were, said: "Segolene Royal has only one weak point -- her companion."

Royal and Francois Hollande, the leader of the Socialist Party, have been a couple for more than 25 years and have four children together.

The Socialist candidate was forced into a tight corner earlier this week after Hollande called for tax increases for people earning more than 4,000 euros (5,165 dollars) is she is elected.

His proposal was not coordinated with Royal's campaign headquarters and prompted a quick rebuttal from the candidate herself, who is anxious not to alienate France's middle classes.

Although Montebourg quickly told the TV presenter he was "having a laugh" with his answer, on Thursday he was forced to offer his resignation over a comment he said he been "unfortunately badly interpreted."

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