Francois Hollande under pressure after affair report

Gayet and Hollande Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Hollande's alleged affair with the actress Julie Gayet risks overshadowing a key political announcement

French President Francois Hollande is coming under pressure to clarify his personal situation, after Closer magazine reported on his alleged secret affair with the actress Julie Gayet.

The president is making a key policy announcement on Tuesday amid fears it may be overshadowed by the allegations.

One French paper said the report was "catastrophic" in every way for him.

Mr Hollande said the publication was an "attack on the right to privacy". He said he might sue, but did not deny it.

'Back of a scooter'

A major press conference next week was intended to be a platform for the president to launch his economic programme for the year ahead - detailing a much-anticipated new tack in efforts to spur growth and create jobs.

But the BBC's Hugh Schofield, in Paris, says the president may be forced into making some kind of official statement on his personal position in order to clear the ground.

President Hollande might like to think his love life is a private affair but now that it is out in the public domain, he needs to explain how things stand our correspondent says.

Key questions include whether he is indeed in a relationship with the actress Julie Gayet, and if so what of his recognised partner Valerie Trierweiler, who lives with him at the Elysee palace. and who is scheduled to accompany him on an official visit to the US next month.

Closer's article, which describes Mr Hollande riding across Paris on the back of a scooter to see his alleged lover, could ruin the president's year, French papers warned on Saturday.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The president's official partner is the journalist Valerie Trierweiler who lives with him at the Elysee palace

"Having to explain, a few minutes before sketching out his vision for France, instead, what he has in mind for his relationship [with Trierweiler] promises to be a highly interesting performance," the Sud-Ouest newspaper wrote.

L'Alsace newspaper described the allegations as "catastrophic in every possible way for Francois Hollande".

Meanwhile, L'Est Republicain said in an editorial that Tuesday's announcement was "expected to mark a political resurgence by confirming the social-democratic shift" the president hinted at in a New Year address, but that "all eyes will now be on the president's reaction".

President Hollande, who took office in May 2012, has seen public support slipping recently. One poll in November gave him just 15% support, the lowest for any president in the past 50 years.

More on this story