Brigitte Macron’s political role in her husband Emmanuel’s presidency is far greater than previously thought and her influence has sparked a power struggle with his “jealous” inner circle of aides, a new book alleges.
Madame La Présidente, published on Thursday, goes as far as to allege that France’s First Lady helps pick her husband’s cabinet ministers.
It cites an “extremely close friend” of the presidential couple as saying Mr Macron’s circle of male devotees at the Elysée are so fed up with her influence over the French president that they “dream about her dying”.
Mrs Macron’s part in her husband’s rise has already been documented – she was filmed editing and coaching his campaign speeches. But the fresh claims underline the allegedly almost sect-like devotion of his aides, who other politicians in the Macron camp are said to nickname “the Mormons”, and the scale of her influence.
“He owes her everything. If he’s president, it’s thanks to her,” another “friend” is quoted as saying. “She is the Right side of his brain,” write authors Ava Djamashidi and Nathalie Shuck, both political journalists at Le Parisien. “He consults her once the doors of the Elysée are closed.”
The Macrons visit the Coptic Church headquarters in Cairo on January 29thCredit: AFP
It has already been reported that Mrs Macron lets her husband know what she thinks of his faux pas. This summer, palatial staff cited by Le Parisien alleged that she made the Elysée walls “shake” in rage at her husband’s dismal handling of the Alexandre Benalla security guard scandal.
But the book alleges she even has a hand in choosing the cabinet, such as education minister Michel Blanquer and recently convinced her husband not to receive star environment minister Nicolas Hulot when he resigned, slamming his departure as ”pathetic“.
Macron’s three-day visit to Egypt included a trip to the temple of Abu Simbel Credit: AFP
“This kind of mistrust is because Brigitte Macron is seen as a rival in the Elysée by aides not used to competition from a woman,“ say the authors who claim: ”They get him to make a decision in the daytime, but come evening she says I don’t agree and the next day he changes his mind.“
The pair met Mrs Macron three times in the Elysée for informal meetings and were allowed to ask questions but rarely quote her directly.
Gérard Collomb, the former interior minister, is cited in the book as calling her the president’s “advanced scout” as she is able to test the waters with people on the ground over what the country thinks of her husband.
However the “scout” can get it woefully wrong, such as when she opened the doors to the presidential palace to Le Monde newspaper to unveil €600,000 in renovation works at the Elysée just three days before the first violent “yellow vest” protest against high taxes and low wages – adding fuel to claims she is France’s latest “Marie Antoinette”.
The authors said that while she does her best to “avoid being a modern Marie Antoinette” by meeting the people and reading 200 letters per day, she is the “product of France’s upper middle class”, who doesn’t know this world and is from a family with a chocolate empire who had staff at home. “She has lots of intuition but sometimes commits huge mistakes due to that upbringing.”
Mrs Macron also told the authors that the hardest thing for her to cope with was the misogyny and ageist abuse she receives not just from the French public, but from its political class.