Wednesday 20 September 2017

Brigitte's daughter aims to follow in stepfather's footsteps

Brigitte Trogneux (left) and her daughter Tiphaine at an election rally for Macron
Brigitte Trogneux (left) and her daughter Tiphaine at an election rally for Macron
Madonna has chimed in on the debate about Brigitte Trogneux

Henry Samuel

'Jealousy" is behind a string of misogynistic attacks on Brigitte Trogneux, France's first lady, her youngest daughter has claimed.

Tiphaine Auzière (32), issued the impassioned defence of her mother as she launched her own political career as deputy to a parliamentary candidate for Emmanuel Macron's new party.

Ms Trogneux has come under a string of sexist and ageist abuse in recent weeks.

Speaking to TV station BFMTV, Ms Auzière, a lawyer and married mother-of-two, said: "I don't want to give credence to people who do this kind of thing.

"I find abhorrent in France in the 21st century such attacks, which would not be carried out against a male politician or a male companion of a female politician."

"There's a lot of jealousy," she said.

"On the ground, on the contrary, I meet people who admire what she does, her work, her involvement. If people have nothing else to do but criticise, let them do it, it will only bring us closer together," she added.

Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine, prompted widespread criticism for publishing a front page showing Mr Macron touching the belly of his apparently heavily pregnant wife with the caption: "He's going to perform miracles."

A comment on political hopes for his five-year term, the caption also implied it would require a miracle for Ms Trogneux to have a child at her age. She has three of her own from a first marriage.

Jacques Domergue, a right-wing councillor in Montpellier, also sparked outrage by writing: "We have a new president who is a younger model of his predecessor. Except the predecessor lived with a woman his daughter's age and the newcomer with a woman his mother's age."

Before his election, Mr Macron broached treatment of their unorthodox relationship, telling Le Parisien newspaper that his wife was the victim of "everyday misogyny".

"If I were 20 years older than my wife, nobody would have thought for a single second that I couldn't be an intimate partner.

"It's because she is 20 years older than me that lots of people say, 'This relationship can't be tenable, it can't be possible'."

Singer Madonna even chimed in on the debate, taking to Instagram to remark: "No one in France seems to care about their age difference nor insisted that Brigitte 'Act her Age'... Vive La France!"

Mr Macron has promised Brigitte a staff, a budget and an official status - but no salary.

The outgoing Socialist president, François Hollande, faced criticism for giving his ex-girlfriend, the journalist Valérie Trierweiler, an Élysée office and a staff, without clarifying her exact role.

Ms Trierweiler addressed a short message to the new French First Lady, saying: "I only have one word (of advice): good luck Brigitte!"

Ms Auzière is the youngest of Ms Trogneux's three children. An active campaigner for her stepfather during the campaign, she was by his side along with her mother at the Louvre to fete his victory against Marine Le Pen.

Her colleagues brushed off local complaints that her local political role was proof of "nepotism", saying she was a symbol of "youth, dynamism and hope".

She will be number two in the northern Pas-de-Calais to Thibaut Guilluy, a local businessman and one of 428 parliamentary candidates named by Macron's La République en Marche party.

Half are women and 52pc are political novices. They include a retired female bullfighter and fighter pilot, as well as a star mathematician, but also 24 currently serving Socialist MPs.

Mr Macron's attempts to win a parliamentary majority spanning the political spectrum hit early turbulence after François Bayrou, a key centrist ally expressed fury at the number of constituencies his MoDem party was offered - 35 instead of the 120 he expected.

"It's a big recycling operation for the Socialist party," Mr Bayrou complained. "When I offered him my support, he was at 18pc."

Mr Macron's party was also forced to correct its list after around 10 of the names proved to be the wrong people.

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