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Macron bans lawmakers from employing their spouses—while prepping a role for his own

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron arrive to attend a concert given by the Pierre Claver Association at the Elysee Palace in Paris
Reuters/POOL New
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By Aamna Mohdin
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

France’s lawmakers are no longer allowed to hire members of their own family—unless, of course, if they’re Emmanuel Macron.

Macron won the presidency on the promise to clean up French politics. In pursuit of that goal, his government passed legislation (pay wall) to “moralize public life.” The law stops MPs from employing members of their family as parliamentary assistants and forces them to fire any relatives working for them in the national assembly.

The law follows the corruption scandal that engulfed the center-right presidential candidate François Fillon. The scandal centered on allegations that Fillon used public cash to pay his wife and their children for fake parliamentary jobs. Fillon, once the favorite to win the presidential election, was ejected from the race in the first round.

Dozen of French MPs have already sacked their family members, but another 20 lawmakers have yet to do so. Those MPs must now dismiss their family members or face up to three years in prison and a €45,000 fine ($53,260).

The law has sparked outrage among some MPs, who accuse Macron of hypocrisy. Even as the newly elected president pushes to prevent French lawmakers from hiring family members, he’s currently crafting a role (paywall) for his wife Brigitte Macron. Her role, which has yet to be officially announced, will require an as-yet undetermined taxpayer-funded budget.

Brigitte is reportedly interested in the education of hospitalized children and the challenges encountered by people with disabilities. While it is typical for the French president’s spouse to have an informal role with a budget at the Élysée Palace, Brigitte will be the first to be an official advisor. She remains the president’s closest political advisor since launching his campaign, and is widely regarded as the brains behind his push to revamp French politics.

Opposition MPs have taken to twitter to call Macron out. Eric Coquerel, an MP of the far-left party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), asked how Brigitte Macron could join the government even as it forbids deputies from employing family members. Thierry Mariani, a republican MP, pointed out that Macron is exploring a position for his wife “at the same time that he is forbidding “family jobs” in parliament.” The tweet accuses Macron of telling lawmakers to “do what I say, not what I do.”

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