Monday 19 March 2018

New first lady in France already being linked to influential role like that played by Michelle Obama

Power: Brigitte Trogneux, wife of the French president-elect Picture: Reuters
Power: Brigitte Trogneux, wife of the French president-elect Picture: Reuters

David Chazan

AS HIS drama teacher, Brigitte Trogneux directed Emmanuel Macron’s stage debut at the age of 15.

As his wife, she coached him during his presidential campaign.

As France’s first lady, she will assume a powerful role that Mr Macron’s aides compare to that of Michelle Obama during her time in the White House.

Mr Macron often refers to his wife – who is 24 years his senior – as his intellectual soulmate and confidante. The 39-year-old says he will govern more effectively if he is happy and that means having Ms Trogneux at his side.

Mindful of the spectacular downfall of Francois Fillon, the former presidential favourite, over allegations that he gave his wife a “fake job” as a parliamentary adviser, Mr Macron has promised Ms Trogneux a staff, a budget and responsibilities, but no salary.

During his campaign, Mr Macron announced that he wanted the position of first lady – which has no official status in France – to be defined and codified.

His plan to give his wife an influential role reflects his insistence that half of his En Marche! movement’s candidates in next month’s parliamentary elections are women.

Ms Trogneux’s main interest is expected to be education and working for disadvantaged and autistic children.

She was married and a mother of three when Mr Macron fell in love with her as a schoolboy in the red-brick rustbelt town of Amiens in northern France.

Mr Macron has become a stepfather to Ms Trogneux’s daughter, Tiphaine, and sons Sebastien and Laurence, although he is about their age.

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