French prez Macron wants to give a role to his wife

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

PARIS: French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron wants to for­mal­ize 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 yes­ter­day. Dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, the 39-yearold 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 tax­funded 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. 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 rec­og­nized 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. —AP

PARIS: In this July 20, 2017 file photo, French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, left, and his wife Brigitte Macron await for a din­ner at the Elysee Palace. — AP

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