No political role for Brigitte Macron after backlash

Brigitte Macron, the wife of French president Emmanuel Macron, will not have an official political role, after a public backlash

Brigitte Macron, the wife of French president Emmanuel Macron, will not have an official political role, after a public backlash against a proposed change in her status.

President Macron has been forced to clarify that a “transparency charter” over his wife’s role will be published by the Elysée Palace in the next few days, and has confirmed that she will have a strictly public - not political - role.

Reports had earlier suggested that Brigitte could take on the official title of ‘first lady’, would have political responsibilities and even an official budget allocated to her role. The proposals were part of an electoral suggestion from Macron that he would seek to create a more equal role for partners of the head of state. 

However, the idea has been roundly criticised in France, with over 300 000 people signing a petition against it.

The leader of the petition, Thierry Paul Valette, has explained that hiring his wife would be a “hypocritical” move for Macron, and go against a law that the president himself proposed, which would stop members of parliament from employing their family or partners.

In a series of Tweets on the issue, the secretary of State and Government spokesperson Christophe Castaner wrote:

“Brigitte Macron plays a role, and has responsibilities. We want transparency on the budget she has access to. She receives over 200 letters per day, and maintains this link with the French people with the utmost discretion.

He added: “[we want] no modification of the Constitution, no new budget, no job or payment for Brigitte Macron. Stop the hypocrisy! It’s just a question of transparency.”

Some have been less critical of the role, including one comment from French opinion pollster Jérôme Fourquet suggesting that a vote for Macron was also a vote for his wife, “so the woman is present ‘in the photo’”.

Journalist Nabila Ramdani, who has interviewed Brigitte Macron, has also written that the latter has every right to attempt to be “taken more seriously”, with her husband recognising the need to raise Brigitte’s position to something more equal than simply “partner of” the President.

Some have suggested that opposing her role is a way of limiting her power, and therefore that of the President himself.

There is currently no precedent for official work done by the partner of a President, with all previous charity or public work financed from the Elysée’s own overall budget of €5m-€7m “as and when” necessary.

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