Sunday 19 November 2017

Attacks because my wife is older than me are just sexist – Macron

New French President Emmanuel Macron with his wife Brigitte Trogneux
New French President Emmanuel Macron with his wife Brigitte Trogneux

Rachel Revesz in Paris

France’s president-elect has claimed that misogyny and homophobia were to blame for assumptions that he could not be in love with his wife who is 24 years his senior.

Speaking to ‘Le Parisien’ newspaper, Emmanuel Macron addressed speculations about his sexuality and what he described as “parallel lives” people had attached to him.

Mr Macron said that if his wife was younger than him, nobody would question the validity of their relationship.

“If I had been 20 years older than my wife, nobody would have thought for a single second that I couldn’t be [an intimate partner],” he said. “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.”

Reports concerning his relationship, he claimed, were due to “misogyny” and people ascribing to “traditional, homogenous” views about society.

Mr Macron first met his wife, Brigitte Trogneux, when he was a 15-year-old drama student. They developed a closer relationship when they worked together to re-write a play.

The couple married in 2007, when he was almost 30 and she was 54. During the presidential campaign, Ms Macron has been a constant figure by his side. A new biography of the politician revealed that the teenager’s parents were shocked when they discovered he had started an affair with his married school teacher.

Mr Macron, who beat Front National candidate Marine Le Pen at the weekend with 66.1pc of the vote, also addressed rumours that he was gay. He claimed there was “rampant homophobia” as people would accuse him of being a homosexual as if it was a “stain” or a “hidden disease”.

Mr Macron said that people who peddled or accepted such rumours had “lost their sense of reality” and had a “big problem with homosexuality”.

He added: “There is a big problem with the presentation of society and [how they see] the place of women.”

Meanwhile, France’s former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls has announced his intention to stand for Mr Macron’s political movement in June parliamentary elections, in the first high-profile defection since last Sunday’s presidential run-off.

However, some in the Macron camp reportedly fret the move could prove a poisoned chalice because Mr Valls is seen as inextricably linked to outgoing President François Hollande’s unpopular administration.

“I will be a candidate for the presidential majority and I wish to join the list [of candidates] of his movement,” said Mr Valls, who lost Socialist primaries in January. The party’s official candidate, Benoît Hamon, crashed out of the first round of presidential elections in fifth place.

“This Socialist Party is dead, it is behind us,” said Mr Valls, long seen as a Blairite reformist and a black sheep of the French left. He nevertheless intimated he would keep his party

membership.

“I want Emmanuel Macron to succeed,” he told RTL radio.

However, Mr Macron’s newly renamed ‘Republique en Marche’ (the Republic on the Move) movement gave a lukewarm reaction to his surprise declaration.

Party spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Mr Valls had not applied to the party’s selection committee and had 24 hours left to do so. It could not be seen to be giving anyone, including ex-prime ministers, special privileges, he warned.

Macron opponents have repeatedly depicted the new presidency as a continuation of the Hollande era.

Independent News Service

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