Macron Plan Booed as 'Americanization' of France

280K sign petition against formal first lady role
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2017 6:49 AM CDT
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and his wife Brigitte Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on July 20, 2017.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

(Newser) – Some 280,000 people have signed a petition in protest of the "Americanization" of French politics. Before his election, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to create a "defined" First Lady position for his wife, which would mean giving Brigitte Macron her own office and staff, reports Reuters. But that plan isn't sitting well with many in France for a couple of reasons. Firstly, tradition: the first lady of France typically promotes charities from Elysée Palace, with help from one or two assistants and protection from security guards, reports the BBC. Secondly, timing: Macron's campaign rival, François Fillon, was dogged by allegations that he paid hundreds of thousands of euros to his wife in a sham role as a parliamentary assistant.

In response to the scandal, Macron said he would bar politicians from employing relatives, which his party is now working to do. But though Macron says his wife will not receive a salary paid for by the taxpayer, some call him a hypocrite. "We cannot sanction the creation of a special status for the spouse of President Macron … during a time when ethical behavior needs to be reasserted in French politics," the petition reads, per France 24. "Brigitte Macron currently has a team of two or three aides, as well as two secretaries and two security agents," it adds. "That's enough." Some 280,000 people have signed the petition as of this writing, but it may be all for naught. French media report the creation of the new role is already in the works. (Read more France stories.)

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