Who Is Cecilia?
Nicolas Sarkozy has five difficult years ahead of him, but one of his toughest problems may be Cecilia, his wife, who, according to several reports, did not vote for him on May 6. Appearances indicate that she will be the official First Lady of France, but it isn't clear that she wants to be, or that he wants her to live with him. Still, he has to have a wife and the troubled couple seems to have reached some kind of modus vivendi.
According to a website called Rue89 the revelation that she had not voted resulted in the first official case of censorship in the Sarkozy era:
According to our sources, the Journal du Dimanche (known as JDD) owned by the Lagardère group, decided at the last minute not to publish an article describing how Nicolas and Cecila Sarkozy had spent their Sunday of May 6. A sudden piece of news - that Cecilia had not exercised her right to vote, then a phone call from Arnaud Lagardère, led the executive editor of JDD, Jacques Espérandieu, to withdraw the article.
Patrice Trapier, editor-in-chief of JDD explained to a journalist of the TV news show 20 Minutes: "we did not publish it because it concerned Cecilia's private life."
JDD was considering two articles about Cecilia: one on the tensions within the relationship, the other about her non-vote. Out of respect for her private life, Jacques Espérandieu refused the first one, but gave the green light to the second, since it concerned a verified fact, and was symbolic enough to warrant publication.
The article describes how Espérandieu was for a while determined to resist all pressures.
Saturday (the day before publication) Jacques Espérandieu asked reporters to call the new "first lady" before publishing the scoop. "A sure way of suppressing information..." commented bitterly the staff of JDD. Not surprisingly, Cecilia Sarkozy answered: "No comment". Several members of Nicolas Sarkozy's closest associates then intervened (...) Espérandieu continued to resist until the phone call from Arnaud Lagardère, CEO of the company, who demanded the article be put in a drawer. (...)
The staff was shocked. They all remembered the Genestar affair, named after the executive editor of Paris-Match, another possession of the Lagardère group. Genestar was fired in June 2006 for not having warned about a cover photo, published in August 2005, showing Cecilia with her then boyfriend, publicity agent Richard Attias. Lagardère waited a year, but eventually gave satisfaction to Nicolas Sarkozy, whom he called "a brother."
One sly explanation for Cecilia's action is that she was taking literally Jean-Marie Le Pen's call to abstain. This cartoon at Rue89 shows an exasperated Nicolas saying, "We said that we were stealing his ideas, not his instructions on how to vote!"
For those who read French there is another article at Le Monde.
French Wikipedia has much information on Cecila, accompanied by the warning that it may not be "pertinent", which in French means "appropriate" or "well-founded." Here are a few excerpts:
She was born Cecilia María Sara Isabel Ciganer Albéniz on November 12, 1957 in Paris. Her grandfather Ciganer was Rumanian Gypsy. Her father André settled in Paris. Her mother, Teresita (called Diane) Albéniz, was Spanish, the daughter of a Belgian ambassador and granddaughter of the composer Isaac Albéniz.
She has three older brothers. Patrick Ciganer is an American citizen and works for NASA. Christian Ciganer is a consultant (apparently a financial consultant, and one of the enterprises where he has worked is the Lagardère group mentioned above). Ivan Antoine Ciganer is sales director of Movistar Pérou, and president of the Franco-Peruvian Chamber of Commerce.
As a child she suffered from a heart condition that impeded her growth. She had open-heart surgery at age 13, and subsequently made up rapidly for the lost time. Today she measures 1.78 meters tall.
While studying the piano (winning first prize at the Conservatory), she obtained her high school diploma after 13 years at the Institute of the Assumption and began law school at the University of Paris. She lived from small jobs, worked in communications, and modeled evenings at Schiaparelli. She gave up law and became a parliamentary attachée to René Touzet, a senator from Indre and her brother's friend.
She met and married Jacques Martin the host of Dimanche Matin (Sunday Morning). The marriage ceremony, which took place on August 10, 1984, was performed by the mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine Nicolas Sarkozy. She stopped working to raise her two daughters, Judith and Jeanne-Marie.
She left Jacques Martin and went to live with Nicolas Sarkozy, along with her two daughters, then aged 6 months and 2 1/2 years. Her divorce was granted four months later (1989). Once Nicolas Sarkozy had been granted his divorce from his first wife, he and Cecilia married on October 23, 1996 in Neuilly. Their son Louis was born on April 28, 1997.
In 2005, during the campaign for a referendum on the European constitution, she was no longer seen at her husband's side. The media began to speak of marital problems and of her liaison with Richard Attias. Nicolas Sarkozy sued one paper Le Matin, and was given partial satisfaction.
In January 2006 it was announced that the couple had reunited.
Even though she was seen at her husband's side during the first round of voting in the presidential election on April 22, 2007, there were new rumors of estrangement in the foreign press. Then came the news that she had not voted in the second round. She did make a noteworthy reappearance on election night around 11:00 p.m., alongside her newly elected husband, at Place de la Concorde.
In July 2004, Cecilia Sarkozy said that she was "proud not to have a drop of French blood in her veins." Marine Le Pen recalled this remark during the presidential campaign after her father had been criticized by the press for saying that Nicolas Sarkozy was a product of immigration.
Note: I believe Cecilia made the remark on television, but I cannot verify the exact details.
To sum up, you may find a lot more information on Cecila Sarkozy at non-French websites. There are French laws protecting the private lives of politicians. And now that he's president...who knows what the French will be allowed to know? This is one reason why French bloggers fear "Big Brother".