Emmanuel Macron’s campaign promise to make official the position of a ‘First Lady’ has backfired. Macron wanted to increase transparency in government by creating an official title and position for his wife, Brigitte, but when proposals began circulating to put this plan in place, they were quickly halted by public resistance to the idea and Macron’s falling popularity.
French artist Thierry Paul Vaulette began an online petition opposing Macron’s efforts, believing them to be hypocritical and corrupt, especially because a position for Brigitte Macron would be funded by the public. It has garnered 305,000 signatures so far. While the position of the first lady is not official in the United States either, American First Ladies like Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Obama have often been far more popular than their husbands and gained respect and power in their own right. It is quite the opposite in France.
History outlines France’s rocky relationship with its first ladies. Unlike U.S. First Ladies Hillary Clinton, a presidential candidate, or Edith Wilson, who many suspect took control of the White House after the president’s stroke, some of these women have captured another kind of attention. The public’s distaste for Macron’s proposal becomes clearer when you remember spouses Henriette Caillaux, a murder suspect, Marie-Antoinette, a queen who was dragged to the guillotine and Valerie Trierweiler, author of a tell-all book about her partner, president François Hollande.
Read more at History.