French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday he and first lady Carla Bruni were deeply happy over their baby daughter, the first official confirmation of the birth, and said their pleasure was all the more intense because it was private.
Sarkozy left it to his wife Carla Bruni, a former supermodel and singer, to reveal their daughter's name. In a brief message on Bruni's website, she said that she was touched by the numerous messages of congratulations since their daughter's birth and announced that they had chosen the name Giulia.
"All of you who are parents can understand the very deep joy that Carla and I feel. Each one of you can also understand that it's an even deeper joy because it is private," President Sarkozy said.
"We have been lucky to have a very happy event take place," he said. "I will just keep to these few brief words to say to you that they are doing very well."
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev both sent congratulations to Sarkozy and Bruni.
Sarkozy and his office have kept silent throughout Bruni's pregnancy, despite high interest in what is the first baby ever born to a French presidential couple in office, with Sarkozy intent on repairing an image many see as too brash and informal.
Late Wednesday evening, the French media reported that France's first lady Carla Bruni had given birth to a baby girl.
Europe 1 radio and BFM television said Bruni gave birth at around 8 p.m. local time after being admitted earlier in the day to the La Muette maternity clinic in central Paris.
Late Wednesday, President Sarkozy returned from a brief trip to Frankfurt and entered the clinic. Sarkozy was in Frankfurt for talks with his German counterpart Angela Merkel and EU officials on Franco-German efforts to put together a plan to stem the euro zone debt crisis.
Sarkozy may have raised eyebrows among family-minded voters, however, for jumping on a plane to Frankfurt while Bruni was in labour, returning later in the evening and briefly visiting her and the baby in the maternity clinic. He returned on Thursday morning, but for less than an hour and did not appear to have flowers or other gifts.
Defence Minister Gerard Longuet told Tele Sarkozy was "very happy" and this could only be a good thing for both the ruling conservatives and the country.
Barefoot Bruni looked radiant
Sarkozy's father, Pal Sarkozy, spoke to France's BFM television saying the family was "thrilled" and that Bruni was tired but "doing very well." "We are thrilled to have a 14th grandchild, who is a little girl. Everybody is doing well. Carla is doing very well, I have had news from her, she is a bit tired but that's completely normal," Pal Sarkozy told BFM. A woman whose daughter gave birth at the same Parisian clinic, La Muette, just before Bruni, told Reuters she had bumped into the first lady, barefoot and wearing a nightdress, in the corridor before the birth. "She was very relaxed. She said hello to all the babies, asked the fathers their names, she said hello to us, and looked really happy, absolutely radiant," she said at the clinic. Pollsters say the birth could give a brief boost to Sarkozy as he grapples with dismal popularity ratings of around 30 percent six months before a presidential election that left-wing challenger Francois Hollande is in a strong position to win. An opinion poll by CSA published this week suggested Hollande could beat Sarkozy by 62 percent to 38 percent in a second-round presidential run-off vote.
A separate poll by Harris Interactive found that Sarkozy was still the best-placed candidate to run for the ruling UMP party, backed by 47 percent of respondents for a hypothetical UMP primary versus 19 percent for Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and 12 percent for Prime Minister Francois Fillon. His daughter's birth coincides with one of the most crucial weeks of Sarkozy's four-year presidency as he battles to hammer out a plan with Germany to stem the euro zone's debt crisis before a self-imposed deadline on Sunday. Pollsters say that as well as his handling of the euro crisis, the image Sarkozy projects to voters in the months ahead will be crucial for his reelection prospects next April. Many in France found his high-speed courtship of Bruni, a singer-songwriter and former model, distasteful coming so soon after his divorce from his second wife, Cecilia, but Sarkozy kept carefully quiet about Bruni's pregnancy. Media coverage has been incessant, however, a novelty in France, where a president's private life is usually kept private. Sarkozy has three children from his two previous marriages, while Italian-born Bruni has a son from a former relationship.