France's President Macron wants to give wife official role

2017-08-08 16:08
Brigitte Macron smiles after casting her vote in Le Touquet, France. (Thibault Camus, AP)

Brigitte Macron smiles after casting her vote in Le Touquet, France. (Thibault Camus, AP)

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Paris – French President Emmanuel Macron wants to formalise the role of the president's wife amid controversy over the cost and status of the first lady.

The president's office is preparing a formal communication in coming days, Brigitte Macron's office said on Tuesday.

During his presidential campaign, the 39-year-old outspoken centrist promised more "transparency" on the issue. France's first lady doesn't have an official status.

As the president's popularity drops in polls, more than 270 000 people have signed a petition in the past few weeks against the plan to grant a tax-funded budget to finance his wife's activities.

Brigitte Macron currently has an office at the Elysee Palace and a staff composed of two advisers and two secretaries, as well as bodyguards.

Publicly, she is mostly seen at her husband's side.

Presidential spouses 'must be recognised'

The status of the president's partner appears to be a sensitive issue in France following a series of scandals in the past few decades, including Macron predecessor Francois Hollande's complex private life.

There hasn't been a presidential spouse in the Elysee Palace since 2012, when former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his supermodel wife Carla Bruni left.

Hollande entered office in 2012 with his girlfriend Valerie Trierweiler at his side, but she left him after a tabloid magazine exposed Hollande's secret affair with actress Julie Gayet in 2014.

Gayet has never publicly appeared by Hollande's side.

Macron once said he wants to end "French hypocrisy" about the status of presidential spouses. The person living with the president "must be able to play a role and be recognised for that role", but wouldn't be paid for it, he said before his election.

Macron has created an inseparable team with his wife Brigitte during his presidential campaign, a move more often seen on American political stages than in France.

Brigitte Macron, 64, a former teacher at Emmanuel Macron's high school, attended most of her husband's rallies. The president doesn't hide that she is also his close political adviser.

Read more on:    emmanuel macron  |  france

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