Will She Stay? Will She Go? France's Enigmatic First Lady

Their tumultuous love story seems better suited to a soap opera than the front pages of a daily newspaper, but there it is: France's first couple is famous neither because of their shared passion for politics à la the Clintons nor for the reassuring domesticity suggested by the Reagans.

In the weeks leading up to the French presidential election, as the leading candidates Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy canvassed for votes, one of the many questions troubling the French public was: "Where is Madame Sarkozy?"

Even as Bernadette Chirac, the wife of Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, turned up at his final rally in a show of support, Cécilia Sarkozy was nowhere to be found.

On the afternoon of the final vote, when Nicolas Sarkozy went to cast his ballot, he was accompanied by two young blond women, Judith and Jeanne-Marie -- his wife's daughters from her first marriage.

But Cécilia was absent, as she had been for most of his campaign.

Many have speculated that Madame Sarkozy did not even vote in the final round of this year's bitterly contested election.

In the end though, when it came time for the now-President Sarkozy to claim victory in the polls, he did so with his willowy wife and their 10-year-old son, Louis, by his side.

So what brought her back from the shadows and what kind of first lady will she be?

At the moment, doubt surrounds her every move, with journalists wondering if she will even move into the Elysée presidential palace with her husband.

Things were not always this complicated. In the early days of the election, Madame Sarkozy took a prominent role in her husband's campaign.

Many believe that she was instrumental in "softening" his image, helping him gain the trust (and the votes) of female as well as young voters.

Crucially, she also oversaw the appointment of Rachida Dati -- a French woman of North African origin -- as one of Nicolas Sarkozy's spokespeople. For Sarkozy, who stood accused of racism after the 2005 riots in Paris' suburbs, when he angrily referred to immigrant rioters as "scum," this appointment was an important attempt at damage control.

The relationship between the couple was so intimate that Cécilia Sarkozy's office was located right next to her husband's, all the better to confer with each other during his stint as minister of the interior.

So what went wrong?

According to Paul Quinio, political editor of the left-leaning newspaper Libération, "at first, Cécilia Sarkozy participated in his campaign, she dealt with his communications, with the appointment of his advisers, but then, there was a rupture."

It was a rupture that was more personal than political, if one takes the Parisian media at their word.

Cécilia Maria Sara Isabel Ciganer-Albeniz first met Nicolas Sarkozy at the altar -- he officiated her first marriage to the television presenter Jacques Martin, 24 years her senior.

Bryony Gordon, a columnist for the British broadsheet The Daily Telegraph told ABCNEWS.com that "the Sarkozys fascinate the public. Their whole love story does. I mean, the man went out of his way to seduce her. He actually got his first wife to befriend her, and then began an affair with her."

According to Sarkozy's biographer, Catherine May, his first wife apparently discovered the affair when the two couples were on a skiing holiday. She found her husband's notably small footprints in the snow outside Cécilia's bedroom window.

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