French Socialists lay into banker-turned-Economy Minister Macron

Opposition to French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron within the ruling Socialist Party erupted on Wednesday with party heavyweight Martine Aubry declaring she had "had enough" of him. Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has also clashed with the former merchant banker and an online petition is calling for his resignation.

Lille mayor and former labour minister Martine Aubry with Prime Minister Manuel Valls
Lille mayor and former labour minister Martine Aubry with Prime Minister Manuel Valls Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

"Macron ... what can you say? Had enough of him, there you are!" Aubry told journalists at a press conference that was supposed to be about her plans for Lille, the city where she is mayor, and December's regional elections.

She went on to accuse the minister of arrogance and ignorance of people's everyday lives and took a swipe at Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who appointed Macron, for not putting into practise a party resolution calling for more redistribution of wealth.

Macron, who is not a Socialist Party member and has been a civil servant and a merchant banker, has spoken out against a number of policies that are dear to the hearts of the left.

His latest sally was against civil servants having jobs for life, a measure Aubry declared guards against corruption and guarantees a strong state.

Macron has also criticised French labour law and the 35-hour working week, introduced by Aubry when she was labour minister in the 1990s.

And he put his name to a controversial law that some argue weakened workers' rights, in particular by extending Sunday trading.

Twelve areas of Paris were designated by decree on Thursday as zones where shops targeting tourists could open on 12 Sundays per year.

That has caused a clash with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who initially opposed the change and later accused the minister of imposing the zones without sufficient local knowledge.

Left-wing Socialist activist Gérard Filoche went a step further on Wednesday.

He launched an online petition calling for Macron's resignation, a demand that was reportedly chanted by Young Socialists when Valls attended a dinner at the party's summer school last month.

Asked about Aubry's comments, President François Hollande said he did not want to comment "but sometimes silence is golden".


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