Will the presidency of Emmanuel Macron open the door to a political dynasty in France? He has no children, so that’s a problem. But wait. There’s Brigitte Macron, who has three. Albeit, all from the union she abandoned to marry Emmanuel, her pupil.
Meet the youngest of Mme Macron’s three children, Tiphaine Auzière, 36, a lawyer, social entrepreneur, and République En Marche activist. Merely six years younger than Macron himself, Tiphaine is the striking cover girl (alongside her mum, the First Lady of France) of Paris Match magazine this week. And it doesn’t take profound insight to imagine that with important regional elections next year, she’s running for something.
At this stage of the French electoral cycle, speculations are febrile, which is why the hagiographic treatment of Tiphaine by Paris Match has excited the inside-the-périphérique media. In the magazine, Tiphaine enjoys the most flattering presentation imaginable. She is pictured wafting through a paddock in the North of France, surrounded by her dogs and horses (she’s a passionate show jumper), wearing a very short, very well cut white floral dress in which she has evidently not been mucking out her stables.
Tiphaine lives outside Calais where she is known for local activism, but her latest initiative is a notably higher profile bid to open a private school to teach deprived children. This is notably ‘outside of a contract’ with the state, hence defiantly outside of the centralised French education system that so often fails these children.
The bold headline declares her ‘L’effrontée’ – which carries a variety of translations, including the impudent, the insolent and the cheeky one.
Does she seek permission from the president, her stepfather, before launching her initiatives? ‘I act and inform afterwards. If not, nothing would get done,’ she says.
Supposedly, this has put any number of cats in the pigeonnier. Paris Match has been a stalwart supporter of the president but not all the president’s aides are impressed, it would appear. Supposedly, in certain corridors, Tiphaine’s apparent contempt for process is regarded as potentially troublesome. Although she has been an activist for Macron’s party, she’s also criticised it for excessive Paris-centrism. With her school initiative, an accelerated two-year program for the otherwise lost, she’s implying (the blindingly obvious) that the state education system is failing.
Raised eyebrows from the Elysée tell us more about the paranoia in the Macron camp, than suggest that Tiphaine is much of a wild card menace to the president. Although she’s well known in the north of France, where she’s been a campaigner on local issues like classroom closures, she’s still a long way from having a deep national profile.
Since Covid, the cocky self-confidence of Macron’s team has been replaced with doubt. I don’t quite get it, since it remains hard to see how he can lose a two-round election in which he will again face Marine Le Pen in the second round. I suppose the worry is not getting to the second round. Macron evidently sees himself in a danger zone, besieged by Covid, Brexit, unemployment, deficit, debt, depression, the Euro crisis, Africa, and so on. But a stab in the back from his own stepdaughter still seems far-fetched on the scale of existential threats. She, on the other hand, may be worth keeping an eye on.
Jonathan Miller tweets @lefoudubaron