The wife of President Sarkozy, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, told a French news programme on Sunday evening that she does not plan to expose the child she is expecting to the glare of publicity.

"/> The wife of President Sarkozy, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, told a French news programme on Sunday evening that she does not plan to expose the child she is expecting to the glare of publicity.

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Bruni: ‘I will never show a photo of my child’

The wife of President Sarkozy, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, told a French news programme on Sunday evening that she does not plan to expose the child she is expecting to the glare of publicity.

Bruni: 'I will never show a photo of my child'
Remi Jouan (File)

“I will never show a photo of this child,” she said. “I think that being exposed to public life is a choice for an adult.”

The statement, made on the weekly news programme “Sept à Huit”, was part of an interview recorded with the first lady on Thursday in the Elysée Palace.

She claimed not to know the child’s gender, despite reports in France that she is expecting a boy. “The press knows more than me,” she laughed.

Bruni-Sarkozy also explained why it took her so long to announce the pregnancy officially, saying it was “perhaps the reflex of a mother hen” as she plans to “do everything to protect this child.”

“You don’t have a child to play to the gallery, and this role as wife of the head of state has put me even more on the defensive,” she explained. “I understand the media interest and I don’t see any inconvenience in it for me or my husband, but when it concerns the children it is impossible [to accept].”

The baby, expected in less than two months, will be the second child for Bruni-Sarkozy who already has an 11-year-old son, Aurélien, from a previous relationship. She admitted that she regretted him being photographed when she and the president were on holiday together in Jordan in 2008.

The child’s arrival comes at a busy time for her husband who is currently occupied with a range of issues. These include Libya and the ongoing eurozone crisis, as well as a series of political scandals in France including campaign finance and accusations that a journalist’s phone records were intercepted.

She was asked whether she was worried she might be left alone with the baby given her husband’s busy schedule, particularly with an electoral campaign on the horizon.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” she said. “But no, he already manages to be close to his grandchildren, his family and the family we have together.”

Perhaps remembering that the president has not yet officially announced he will stand for re-election, she added “the electoral campaign has not yet started and I don’t know if he will stand.” However, if he does stand “I will take part if he needs me.”

Asked more precisely about the birth itself and whether her husband would be there, she said simply, “I hope so.”

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Leaders Sarkozy and Juppé stumble in race for Elysée

Right-wing candidates for the French presidential election face off in the first round of a US-style primary on Sunday with former president Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-prime minister Alain Juppe fighting to avoid being knocked out by an outsider.

Leaders Sarkozy and Juppé stumble in race for Elysée
Alain Juppé and Nicolas Sarkozy. Photo: AFP

In a contest overshadowed by the election of Donald Trump in the United States, support for the early favourite Juppe has slipped and Francois Fillon, who served as prime minister under Sarkozy, has risen fast.

The right-wing nominating contest is crucial because with the French left divided, the winner is expected to go on to take the presidency in May, beating far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the runoff.

Juppe, 71, entered the two-month-long contest with polls showing him to be France's most popular politician, but his approach of playing the moderate against the fiery Sarkozy and the conservative Fillon appears to be backfiring.

Most polls now show Juppe and Sarkozy are neck-and-neck at around 30 percent, with Fillon close behind after making striking progress in recent weeks.

The two winners on Sunday will go through to the second round run-off a week later.

Two becomes three

“We were expecting a duel but in the end a three-way contest has emerged,” political scientist Jerome Jaffre said in Le Figaro newspaper on Thursday.

Many have noted that 62-year-old Fillon's rise had coincided with the publication of his latest book entitled “Beating Islamic totalitarianism”.

An often confused final TV debate of the seven candidates on Thursday offered few clues about the possible outcome, although viewers polled afterwards said Fillon had performed the strongest.

Sparks flew when Sarkozy was asked about fresh claims that he received millions in funding from the late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi towards his 2007 campaign.

Sarkozy called the question “disgraceful” and refused to answer.

Turning to the Trump effect, the former president said a more isolationist America created “a fantastic opportunity for France and Europe to re-establish a leadership role” on issues including border security and the reform of the UN Security Council.

“The next five years will mark the return of France and Europe to the international scene. America won't be there to put us in the shade,” he said.

Juppe meanwhile said the Trump-era heralded a triple “shock” — in the areas of trade, defence and the environment.

A return to protectionism would be “a tremendous regression”, Juppe said, while warning Europe against being “naive” in its dealings with the United States.

The three leading candidates have similar programmes, underpinned by pledges to reinforce domestic security in a country still under a state of emergency following a series of jihadist attacks.

They also share a desire to reinforce European borders and reduce immigration, while tax cuts also loom large.

The choice will come down to style.

Sarkozy has emphasised his tough-guy credentials, saying it makes him a better choice to handle Trump than the mild-mannered Juppe.

Fillon, who is popular in the business world, has promised “radical” economic measures but is the most conservative of the three on social issues.

Another unknown factor in Sunday's first round is the number of left-wing voters prepared to pay two euros and sign a declaration that they subscribe to “the values of the centre and the right” to vote in the right-wing primary.

Those who do are expected to vote against 61-year-old Sarkozy, who remains a highly divisive figure in France four years after he left office.

When the right-wing candidate is chosen on November 27, it is expected to trigger an announcement from deeply unpopular Socialist President Francois Hollande on whether he intends to bid for re-election.

On Wednesday, Hollande's former economy minister Emmanuel Macron announced he would stand as an independent.

by AFP's Guy Jackson