Emmanuel Macron under fire over wife's 'First Lady' role
Posted August 7
French President Emmanuel Macron has come under fire over plans to give his wife official status as "First Lady" of France.
Macron, who took office in May, is facing accusations of hypocrisy after he was previously outspoken in his determination to rid the French political system of nepotism.
A petition with close to 200,000 signatures has been launched in protest at the decision to give Brigitte Macron an official role with access to public funds, her own staff and office.
"Brigitte Macron currently has a team of two or three aides, as well as two secretaries and two security agents. That's enough," says the petition.
"It is up to the people of France -- and no-one else -- to choose their representatives," it adds.
According to the French constitution, the president's spouse does not enjoy an official role, though they do have an office and advisers.
During his presidential campaign, Macron said any role for his wife would not be paid for out of public funds.
Ban on employing relatives
The controversial move comes as Macron is preparing to pass a law which would ban French parliamentarians from employing members of their own families.
If Macron's law is passed, anyone convicted of such an offense could face fines and potential time in prison.
France's last election campaign was plagued by fake jobs scandals involving far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and conservative contender Francois Fillon.
In June, Macron's own Defense Minister Sylvie Goulard, resigned after becoming embroiled in a fake jobs scandal of her own.
Opposition lawmakers have voiced their anger at the apparently contradictory positions adopted by Macron.
Ugo Bernalicis, of the far-left coalition La France Insoumise, accused Macron's party of hypocrisy for speaking out against jobs for MPs' families but backing an official status for Brigitte Macron, "who was elected by no-one!"
Republican National Assembly member Thierry Mariani accused the French President of taking a "do as I say, not as I do" approach to politics.
President under pressure
Macron has been under increased pressure in recent weeks, with a number of polls reporting that his popularity has dipped since taking office.
Last month, General Pierre de Villiers resigned as head of the French armed forces over a dispute surrounding the country's defense budget.
De Villiers was critical of Macron, the first French president not to have served in the armed forces, after claiming he had originally received assurances over defense spending.
He has also been mocked in the media, compared with Jupiter, king of the Roman Gods and "Sun King" Louis XIV, after he delivered an address to fellow politicians at the opulent Palace of Versailles.