In his first appearance since the press since news broke of his alleged affair with an actress, French President François Hollande faces the press on Tuesday afternoon. Follow the latest updates here.
19:13 So after two and half hours it's all over. He survived, mainly by refusingto answer questions on his alleged affair with Gayet and by talking economy, economy, economy, for most of the time, as is his right of course.
So we'll wrap it up there. For a recap of the main talking points from the conference, inlcuding Hollande's admittance that he and his partner Trierweiler are going through "painful" times, click on the link below. THANKS for following us. More reaction tocome tomorrow.
19:12: Yet more last questions, this time on Syria.
19:00 - Hollande's press conference turning into a Fidel Castro speech now according to one commentator on Twitter. Confirmation he's turning to the left, he jokes.
Le tournant gauchiste de François Hollande: sa conf de presse est aussi longue que celle de Castro #ConfPR— Alex Sulzer (@Alexsulzer) January 14, 2014
18:53: Asked a vague question by an AP journalist about the private/public life of the President Hollande says: "In France we have this respect for private life as we llas for the freedom of the press. They are part of our values." And that, seems to be that on the Closer affair, for today anyway.
18:50 - Groans as Hollande says he will only take two more questions. These journalists have been listening for over two hours but they want more. Haven't they got deadlines!
18:45 - Hollande has been asked about the health of Valerie Trierweiler. "She's resting and I won't be making any more comments".
18:37: Hollande still talking. It's getting on for two hours now. He's even managing to get a few laughs. He's covered a fair few subjects so far. He's not been asked about Ffrance's chances of winning the World Cup yet. though. Meanwhile on Twitter, the jokes keep coming.
"Croissance (growth), croissants, I'm confused", tweets Loredana Oliva.
— Loredana Oliva (@loliva2011) January 14, 2014
18:26 - On the Roma question now. Hollande grilled on the fact that France has doubled number of Roma evictions. "This is a European wide question, it is not just France that is affected," Hollande says. "We do everything with a scrupulous respect for the law," Hollande said refering to the policy of expelling Roma back to their countries of origin.
18:15 - Holande is back talking about the economy. He is looking pretty confident and at home ow. Probably thinking the worst is over. It may not be yet...
18:12 - Several memes and cartoons are circulating on social media in France. This particular cartoon reads: "Will Hollande reverse the course of his life?" Hollande says: "Hello Valerie T. journalist." Trierweiler says: "I have one question..." a parody of the fact that Hollande's girlfriend is in fact a journalist herself. #confPR #Hollande pic.twitter.com/c7o2q9SLC4
— N@- (@NathalieJacque1) January 14, 2014
18:10: A Joke from a UMP delegate at Hollande's expense referringto his answer about whether his security is ever compromised, referring to the Gayet affair.
18:04: When questioned on Dieudonné, Hollande heralds a victory, referring to the banning his shows. It was a victory against "prejudice, anti-Semitism and racism." Hollande also noted the number of Islamophobic incidents that need to be denounced.
18:00 - The alleged Hollande-Gayet affair is still the main focus of the French media coverage of the press conference. The headline on Le Figaro's homepage reads: "Private life: Hollande promises clarification and will not sue Closer".
17:55 - No journalist to relaunch Hollande and Gayet? Seriously?
17:53 - The President was earlier asked a question on whether its time to end the position of the "First Lady" in France, again in reference to the title that has been given to Valerie Trierweiler, Hollande's girlfriend. In response Hollande simply says: "There's never been a legal status of a First Lady in France". That's that then.
17:50 - Hollande insists his security is never jeopardised at any time in clear reference to the images allegedly showing him zipping across Paris on the back of a scooter accompanied by only one security guard.
17:48: "We are in a country with great freedoms and we have this principle for privacy, unlike in some other countries," Hollande says, insisting that must be protected.
17:42: BACK TO CLOSER REVELATIONS: Hollande says he is "outraged" by the Closer article. "We have to respect privacy and the dignity of individuals," he says. He adds that he is not infavour of changing the legislation regarding privacy in France. Asked whether he will sue Closer Hollande says was non-committal saying "everything as a citizen sugests heshould go aheead with it" but then he notes that as he himself has immunity from prosecution, should he be allowed to sue someone while in power. "I don't want double standards," he says.
#Hollande #Gayet His private life belongs to him. We didn't vote for a First Lady of France who doesn't exist in our statutes anyway
17:37 - Hollande asked about the number of French young people going abroad. "I often meet these young people when I go abroad...They are ambassadors of our country across the world. We hope they come back. How do we get them back. It's an employment issue and a question of pay."
17:32 - Another question on the economy. "What a bunch of lap dogs" blurts The Local's Joshua Melvin, in frustration at the line of questioning.
17:30 - He's back on his home turf now - Economy. BFM TV and AFP both chose to ask questions on the economy and not his private life. Hollande launches into another lengthy response.
17:28 - Hollande basically says "Not now, not here" when it comes to questions on his private life. We'll see if he sticks by that. He has promisedto answer questions on it or at least clear up the situation around Valerie Trierweiler at a later date, indeed before he goes to the United States.
17: 23: Hollande continues: "I absolutely abide by the principle that private business has to be handled privately. We must respect each individuals privacy. This is not the right place or the right time. However if I don't answer any questions on this today then I will so before a future press conference."
17:22 - Question was "Is Valerie Trierweiler still the First Lady of France". Hollande's answer: "I understand your question, I am sure you understand my response. Each individual in his or her private life goes through difficult periods and this is the case here. We are going through some painful moments."
17:22 FINALLY Question on Closer affiar claims:
17:20 - Errr.. The head of the presidential press association is warbling now.
17:20 - OK QUESTIONS. Here we go.
17:20 - Hollande says he wants France to be a country that upholds press freedoms. Let's see if he is saying that in an hour's time.
17:14: Hollande anounces plans to creat a "large Franco-German energy company". No details given. Presumably Merkel knows this. More details to follow...
17:11 - Around 600 journalists – many of them from the foreign press – are attending the press conference.
17:07 - Foreign policy now. Hollande giving himself a slap on the back for interventions in Mali and Central African Republic. "Mali would have been worse without the intervention," he said.
17:05 - Hollande turns his attention to anti-Semitism, in the wake of Dieudonné affair. He vows to crackdown on anti-Semitism and racism, but not to diminish the freedom of speech and creation. "Exceptions must be made when the dignity of people or public disorder is threatened."
17:02 - Hollande on education now: "THe school embodies the Republic" He wants to improve pay for teachers
17:00 - Hollande is warbling about medicines now and in the mean time Twitter is having fun at his expense.
16:57 - Foreign press definitely growing restless already.
Oh, Francois. With this foreplay, you are spoiling us. #hollande— SimonNRicketts (@SimonNRicketts) January 14, 2014
16:55 - Suggestions that Hollande is trying to talk everyong to sleep so that they will either nod off or go home and he can get away with not mentioning actresses, scooters, croissants etc.. One tweeter suggests the foreign media, who are all broadcasting the conference live will be regretting this.
Après 20 minutes d'introduction, les CNN et autres grosses chaines étrangères qui font un live de la #confPR commencent à regretter.— Hugo Clément (@hugoclement) January 14, 2014
16:52: Plenty of action on twitter of course today:
16:49: - Responsibility pact will be biggest in France's recent history, says Hollande. Everyone will be involved, - businesses, unions, local authorities. "No time must be lost. France must bounce back to get on the right foot", he says.
16:46 - It may not be juicy, but Hollande's words will please many expats living in France so far. He wants to simplify French regulations and bureaucracy. He says he wants to "change the tax system and reduce certain taxes that cost more to recover than to they bring in."
16:43 - Hollande is talking about his "responsibility pact" with French businesses - basically his plan to reduce labour costs if they agree to increase recruitment. It was set to be the main subject of the conference, but really, everyone is just waiting for another, juicier, topic now.
16:41 - It's all serious issues to start with for Hollande. The issues that really affect the French people - unemployment and jobs. "We must begin a new battle .The challenge is not just that France finds growth, but it needs to be vigorous.
16:40 - Hollande takes the stage. Low key start. Talking about France's need to retain its influence in the world. No sign of actress Julie Gayet today, it must be said.
16:35 - This photograph from Channel Four is causing a bit of a stir among the media. Nice art work.
16:30 - Conference is set to start right now. Hollande keeping everyone waiting. Plenty of Ministers in place to support Hollande/watch the drama.
16:24 - We understand Hollande will address the "Closer" revelations. He is set to talk for a short while and then will take questions, the first of which will be about the alleged affair. The question will be asked by the head of the "Presidential press corps", who is a Le Figaro journalist. We can expect a well-rehearsed response from Hollande.
16:14 - Share you thoughts with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments section below. Is Hollande's private life fair game? Here's what American University of Paris professor Matthew Fraser had to say on the matter: French media must grill Hollande on 'farce'
16:13 - The Elysee Palace has prepared a nice preamble video for the press conference today.
16:08 - The Local France will be tweeting out updates to. Follow us on @TheLocalFrance. The hashtag for the conference is set to be (#COnfPR)
16:05 - The conference room at the Elysée Palace is filling up. Only around 600 journalists for Hollande to contend with.
16:00 - While France has a long tradition of ignoring the private lives of public figures Hollande's alleged dalliance with Julie Gayet has tested those limits. Since magazine Closer published its exposé on Friday revealing the alleged relationship the updates have been continuous. The magazine claimed Hollande was chaufered to his trysts with Gayet on the back of scooter, with only one security guard in tow. Then came word Hollande's girlfriend and France's 'first lady' Valerie Trieweiler was hospitalized for stress over the revelation.