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POLITICS

French MPs at each others’ throats over whether they should wear ties in parliament

The new French parliament has just re-opened for business and MPs are already rowing with each other. It's not about the planned labour reforms or any fake jobs scandals but the issue of whether MPs should wear ties to the National Assembly.

French MPs at each others' throats over whether they should wear ties in parliament
Leftist French MP François Ruffin in the French parliament without a tie! Photo: AFP
French far-left MPs caused a stir among their colleagues in parliament for choosing not to wear a tie at the first meeting of the new French parliament on Tuesday. 
 
Jean Luc Mélénchon's France Insoumise (LFI) party sparked the row after male MPs turned up to the National Assembly's inaugural session without wearing ties. 
 
And although it isn't obligatory for French MPs to wear a tie at the Palais Bourbon, they are considered a traditional part of the “uniform” for men. 
 
France Insoumise MPs vehemently defended their right not to conform with Mélénchon himself comparing his MPs to the working class French Revolutionaries who were known as the “Sans Culottes”, which translates as “without trousers”.
 
“We've had the Sans Culottes, now we have the Sans Cravates (without ties),” joked Mélénchon.
 
Photo: AFP
 
But members of other parties in the Assembly were not amused.
 
A spokesperson for President Emmanuel Macron's La Republique en Marche (REM) party called the move an “insult”. 
 
“Arguing that, 'we're here to represent the French working class so we're not going to wear ties', I think that it's an insult to those people,” said the spokesperson.
 
Conservative Bernard Accoyer, an ex-president of the French parliament, has weighed in, saying that it represents “a lack of respect for the French people, the voters, democracy and the institution which is at the heart of the Republic.”
 
La France Insoumise leftist party's Francois Ruffin speaks to the press outside parliament. Photo: AFP
 
Leader of the far-right National Front party Marine Le Pen mocked the move, saying, “These people think they're Jean Moulin because they're not wearing ties,” referring to the hero of the French Resistance during World War II.
 
Even though it's not actually against the rules not to wear a tie – with French MPs simply asked to “dress properly” – guards at the French parliament often offer a backup tie to those who turn up without one.
 
Despite the uproar, there have been some far more dramatic cases of flouting the MPs' tradition of wearing a tie.
 
In 1985, Jack Lang, then minister for culture, sat in the French parliament wearing a Mao costume and in 1997, another MP arrived in workers overalls. 
 

POLITICS

‘I’ve lost my eyebrows – but not my political ambition’, says France’s ex PM

France's former prime minister Edouard Philippe, a leading contender to succeed President Emmanuel Macron in 2027 elections, has opened up about a hair loss condition he says will not diminish his political ambition.

'I've lost my eyebrows - but not my political ambition', says France's ex PM

The 52-year-old politician, who spearheaded the government’s fight against the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, was a familiar face on television with his trademark brown beard.

Since leaving the post in the summer of 2020 and working as mayor of the Normandy port of Le Havre, his appearance has drastically changed with his hair and beard thinning and turning white suddenly.

“This is what had happened to me: I lost my eyebrows, and I don’t think they will come back,” he told BFMTV in an interview late Thursday.

“My beard has turned white, it’s falling out a bit and the hair too.

“The moustache is gone, I don’t know if it will come back, but I would be surprised,” he said.

“I have what is called alopecia,” he added, opening up about the auto-immune condition that accelerates hair loss.

He said the condition was “not painful, dangerous, contagious or serious”.

Philippe’s wry and avuncular style proved popular with many French and some speculated that his high approval ratings had caused tensions with Macron, with replaced him as Prime Minister in the summer of 2020.

Philippe now regularly tops polls of France’s most-loved and most-trusted politicians. 

He has now founded a new centrist party called Horizons that is allied with Macron’s ruling faction but also unafraid of showing an independent streak.

Some analysts see Philippe as an obvious potential successor to Macron, who must leave office after serving the maximum two terms in 2027.

And Philippe insisted that his condition would not stand in the way of his political plans.

“That doesn’t stop me from being extremely ambitious for my city,” he said referring to Le Havre.

Tellingly, he added: “It doesn’t stop me from being extremely ambitious for my country.”

With France buffeted by strikes and protests as the government seeks to push through landmark pension reform, Philippe gave his full backing to Macron for the changes.

He said he supported the changes “without ambiguity, without any bad note or any other kind of little complication”.

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