More than 200,000 people have signed an online petition to prevent Brigitte Macron, wife of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, from being given the official position of “First Lady”.
Launched a fortnight ago on change.org, the petition seeks that no public money be set aside for the First Lady role that Macron promised to create for his wife while he was still a presidential candidate.
“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, which had collected nearly 200,000 signatories by Monday.
“We strongly denounce any and all sexist attacks against Brigitte Macron, and we do not in any way seek to call her competency into question,” the text reads. “However, during a time when ethical behaviour needs to be reasserted in French politics,” with the adoption of a law notably forbidding ministers and parliamentarians from employing their family members, “we cannot sanction the creation of a special status for the spouse of President Macron”.
In the French constitution, the president’s spouse does not enjoy an official role, though they do have an office and advisers.
During his campaign, Macron had indicated that his wife would have “a fully public role” if he were elected, in order to avoid what he deemed to be a certain “hypocrisy” on the part of prior administrations, but that she would not be paid a salary with public funds.
“I want there to be a defined role for her, and I will ask for a proposal to be presented on how to proceed in that regard,” he had stated, explaining that his government “would specify the contours of that position in the first few weeks”, and that Brigitte would make the final decision about her future function.
However, the petition’s creator Thierry Paul Valette, disclosed that a decision on whether to introduce a first lady to France should be decided by referendum and “not by a single man.”
“There is no reason for the wife of the head of state to get paid through public funds,” Valette, an artist and founder of the National Equality Movement, which campaigns against corruption and discrimination, added. “Brigitte Macron currently has a team of two or three aides, as well as two secretaries and two security agents. That’s enough.”