Family affair

Emmanuel Macron faces revolt in France for proposal to give his wife an official job

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron attend a concert given by the Pierre Claver Association at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 25, 2017. (REUTERS/Julien de Rosa/Pool)

French President Emmanuel Macron is facing a backlash after proposing that his wife, Brigitte Macron, officially be given the job and title of ‘first lady,’ similar to how the position for the spouse of the president is treated in the United States. More than 220,000 have signed a petition as of Monday morning denouncing the proposal.

In the past, Macron has described the lack of clarity surrounding the title and official duties of the president’s spouse as a type of “French hypocrisy,” and vowed during his campaign to better define the role.

“I would like a defined framework and I will ask for the subject to be worked on,” Macron reportedly said during the presidential race. “The person living with you should be able to have a role and be recognized for that role.” Clearly and officially defining the role of first lady — as it is in the U.S., where current first lady Melania Trump is afforded a staff of 12 (some have suggested the first lady or first gentleman should be a salaried position) — would designate a budget for the role, which is what has opponents up in arms.

The man behind the petition, artist and author Thierry Paul Valette, said, “There is no reason why the wife of the head of state should be given a budget out of public funds. At present, Brigitte Macron has two or three assistants as well as two secretaries and two security staff, and that’s enough.” According to Valette, his opposition is now about personal or sexist attacks against Brigitte Macron. Rather, he said it was about Macron’s proposal to bar MPs from hiring family members. “At a time when French public life is being moralized, at a time when a decree banning MPs from employing members of their family is being voted … we cannot decently approve of an initiative giving President Macron’s wife a specific status.”

Macron’s popularity has been plummeting in recent weeks and the latest polling shows his approval rating is at 36 percent.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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