According to media reports Richard Ferrand, a close ally of Emmanuel Macron and France's new housing minister, profited from a property deal with his wife when he was the director of a regional health insurance fund six years ago. Although legally Ferrand cannot be accused of anything, together with Macron he campaigned on the promise of raising moral standards in politics. Is this the first millstone around the new government's neck?
Nepotism in its post-modern guise
In addition to the property deal Ferrand reportedly employed his son as a parliamentary assistant during his time as an MP. Nepotism isn't a thing of the past even under President Macron, La Stampa laments:
“Times change but some things always stay the same. That includes the fact that politicians have families. And thus the pre-modern keeps pace with the post-modern. … France seems to be cutting a particularly good figure in the new nepotism contest. Not so long ago, during the Republican primaries, the Penelope-Gate scandal destroyed the credibility of François Fillon, who had employed his wife and children as assistants. Now Emmanuel Macron is already in trouble. He, the master of change, who won the election campaign with the promise of transparency. … In politics the golden rule has always applied, as a behavioural biology principle so to speak, that you always surround yourself with those you trust most. And nothing guarantees loyalty like blood ties do.”
Macron must push through code of conduct
The new French government is working on a moral code of conduct for MPs. L'Obs sums up what's at stake:
“The idea isn't to follow this or that trend or to become a Nordic democracy from one day to the next, but to introduce a simple code of conduct that can be accepted by all, guaranteeing everyone the right to run for election without necessarily having to be a local baron, male, white, and over 50. This isn't the smallest challenge Emmanuel Macron faces. By getting himself elected even though just three years ago he was a nobody - or practically a nobody - the head of state has introduced a wind of hope and optimism into the country. Let's hope he won't let it be spoiled by the lingering odour of politics as it was before.”