Should "Première Dame" be a formal job title?
In his election campaign French President Emmanuel Macron promised to give official status to the role played by the president's wife. Anything else would be 'hypocritical' in view of the public role that this position entails. Now he has scrapped the plan in the face of a petition against the move. Has he been too quick to abandon a good idea?
President's wife is more than just a trophy
The huge resistance to Macron's plans is out of keeping with the times, Le Monde believes:
“ All [presidents' wives] since Mme Giscard d'Estaing have been given a small team in the Elysée palace [for their charitable work]. It is precisely this role and these funds that the president wants to define more clearly and make more transparent. And rightly so. That's why the campaign against the 'Première Dame' is a step backwards. It would be paradoxical - and pretty humiliating - if in 2017 the role of the president's wife were reduced to that of 'potiche' (the word came from François Hollande's former partner Valérie Trierweiler and means decorative vase).”
More transparency wouldn't go amiss
Macron's plan would have led to more transparency, Helsingin Sanomat writes, lamenting the President’s decision to back down:
“If the position had been made official, the expenses of his partner would have been published separately and not remained hidden among the Élysée's costs. Brigitte Macron is now getting the same little office and the same staff that she would have been given as the official 'Première Dame'. … And yet Macron’s opponents feel they have won this battle. ”
Macron all over
The conflict has become a political problem for the president, observes the taz:
“He had to react and try to stop the controversy before it spilled over into his own role and activities. Macron is also avoiding the prolonged procedure of a constitutional amendment which would have been necessary to create an official status. The charter that has been announced instead is a fig leaf. ... This approach is Macron all over: he yields in form, but never loses sight of his intentions. It's clear for all to see. But the idea of making a certain area more transparent - also regarding costs for the taxpayer - remains a good one. ”