Le Divorce: “Sang-froid and a collective shrug”

French president Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-wife Cécilia
[Photo source: NYT]

L’Amour Has Little to Do With l’État – NYT 102207

THE French — on the right and on the left — have embraced the news that President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Cécilia, have divorced with a surprising amount of sang-froid and a collective shrug.

It’s partly that the French no longer treat marriage as a particularly sacred institution. The marriage rate here has plunged more than 30 percent in the past generation, and nearly one out of two marriages end in divorce. It’s also that the French still seem to think that if Mr. Sarkozy is roaming the Élysée Palace all alone, it’s nobody’s business but his own.

According to a poll conducted after the news broke on Thursday, 79 percent declared Le Divorce of “little or no importance” in the country’s political life. A whopping 92 percent of the more than 800 people polled said that the divorce did not change their opinion of their president.

“In France we still don’t put private morality at the center of political life,” said Stéphane Rozès, director of CSA, the research group that conducted the poll. “The media and the political elite may want to hype the story, to Americanize it, but the French people are more sophisticated. They can buy the ‘People magazines,’ but they still profoundly believe that the private life of politicians needs to be protected.”

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