Mitterrand and Hollande Putin vs Yeltsin or what it means to be a leader

Political leaders are often reproached that they do not give the best “incarnation” of his office. The President must hide your body, feelings and personal life. Francois Mitterrand and Vladimir Putin is well managed, what can be said about Francois Hollande and Boris Yeltsin.

Two of the President’s body

In January 2014 Francois Hollande was caught on a scooter on the way to his girlfriend Julie Gaye (Julie Gayet). Disaster for someone who wanted to imagine themselves as “normal” President. Indeed, in the eyes of the public there is nothing more abnormal than expose their private lives on display by the President.

Hollande is clearly not made for myself of the insights from the book of historian Ernst Kantorovich (Ernst Kantorowicz sur) on two bodies of the king.

As soon as the leader takes a leadership position, it splits, i.e., is both himself and the institution that embodies. The metaphor speaks volumes: the office of the President is perceived as a second body, which is superimposed over the human. Realizing this, we can better understand what social group expects of its leader.

These two bodies are never on the same level: after the coronation or election of the head of state should hide the human body, aging and the vagaries of fate, for the state, which is distinguished by permanence and transforms it. The man who became President, not just the individual, and the embodiment group.

For this reason, subjects of the king and the citizens the President will always condemn its individualism and to welcome the service of a common cause. Leader able to translate his position, gets a lot of legitimacy that often accompanies real popularity.

Francois Hollande really managed to do it only once for the term: after the terrorist attacks of January 2015. He fully took over the presidential role and received in response to the rise of ratings. Subsequently, however, he is once again mired in a self-destructive abnormality. Released in October 2016, the book “the President is not supposed to say” brought down its popularity to unprecedented 4% mark. Two months later he had to give up the fight for a second mandate.

His predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy has opened the way for the abdication from the majestic presidential status. At a press conference in January 2008, he said became known to the self-defeating phrase: “With Carla it’s serious!”

In fact, the President laid bare in public in front of 600 journalists! He flaunts the privacy that hits the institution, which he must translate, and is contrary to the expectations of the majority of citizens from the President.

Appearance matters

In this perspective, the French political culture still bears the imprint of the great heritage of the monarchy: the appearance matters, as in the days of Louis XIV. The head of state is not a mere mortal. François Mitterrand perfectly understand this and therefore carefully concealed the existence of illegitimate daughter until the very end of the presidential term.

Ironically, in his own clumsy speech, Nicolas Sarkozy, mentioned Francois Mitterrand and criticized him, to distance themselves from him. He wanted to move away from the “unfortunate tradition of our political life: hypocrisy”. Grave error: this hypocrisy is a political need, which is spelled out in the definition of the head of state for at least the last five thousand years. It is invariant human history. Rules which formed the first leaders in Mesopotamia and Egypt at the dawn of humanity, is still in force. French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid dearly for failing to follow ancient unwritten rules.

Still more serious moment, very much what Sarkozy and Hollande’s trip was the Monica Lewinsky affair in 1998: President bill Clinton was forced to discuss in detail their sexual relationship. In addition to his own will, he became something of a humiliating actor in a pornographic movie. Nevertheless, he still managed to avoid started against him the impeachment.

Later, a potential candidate for the French presidency in 2012, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (Dominique Strauss-Kahn) was also caught in a “no pants”, which immediately dashed his prospects to take the post of head of state.

Athlete vs alcoholic: Putin and Yeltsin

Russia gives us an interesting example of juxtaposing the body of Boris Yeltsin and his successor Vladimir Putin. The first was in 1990-ies unworthy of a President: an alcoholic, a buffoon and a fool, unable to behave in public. He was off on official ceremonies and perhaps even collapse if he did not support the members of the entourage. Many Russians felt humiliated at the sight of a sick and ridiculous leader.


Vladimir Putin is carefully formed diametrically opposite way, which far better matches the timeless figure of the leader. Official biographers tell the story of his body. Putin began to exercise since childhood to lead a bunch of working guys who were playing in the yard of his house. At the time the future President was weak, but he managed to overcome the initial disadvantages that could endanger his future. He changed his body and chose their own path. All this hints at the fact that now it is suitable for the highest posts.

In this story, the body symbolizes Putin’s weak and corrupt in the past the Russian government, which the President aims to lift and strengthen. In parallel, the Russian leader said nothing about his private life, allowing the world press to fantasize about his real or imagined relationships.

A leader can not do anything. His body and conduct to have been written in the political culture of expectations citizens or subjects. It needs to adhere to certain behaviors, to create a visible image. His position is codified stereotypes that are as old as the history of mankind.

It reminded Francois Fillon: it is difficult to imagine “General de Gaulle under investigation”. As defeated in battle, Alexander the great, or who went against the Egyptian gods of Ramses II. The “normality” of the head of state is the source of lasting and sustainable credibility.