Election year in France is an intense business: the French go to the polls on Sunday for the fourth time in two months. First, there were two rounds of the presidential election, in April and May, then last Sunday was the first round of parliamentary elections, which conclude this week.

New president François Hollande is hoping to win a majority in the national assembly for his Socialist Party government under prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. But the soap-opera atmosphere of the Sarkozy era seems to be continuing, as France has been transfixed this week by a spat between Hollande's current girlfriend, Valérie Trierweiler, and his former partner (and mother of his four children) Ségolène Royal.