Is France’s Macron really ‘dressing up’ as Ukrainian president Zelensky?

A photo of Emmanuel Macron has been causing a stir in France - and even around the world - but is it really all that it seems?

Is France's Macron really 'dressing up' as Ukrainian president Zelensky?
Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky, pictured in 2020. Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP

What is this?

A photo of French president Emmanuel Macron has been doing the rounds and raising eyebrows, even sparking news articles around the globe.

It shows a slightly unshaven Macron wearing a hoodie with a military logo and raising an eyebrow at the photographer.

Er, and why is this news?

It’s an unusual look for the French president, who is very rarely photographed wearing anything other than a well-tailored dark suit and crisp white shirt. 

It’s led to a lot of comment, with many people making the point that Macron appears to be trying to ape the macho, military look of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who has become something of an international sex symbol in recent days (although that’s probably the last thing on his mind as he tried to deal with the Russian invasion of his country).

Several British newspapers have written articles on the photo, many European newspapers have covered it and it’s even crossed the Atlantic to the US.

Some writers appreciated Macron’s new look, others accused him of a publicity stunt and trying to ‘piggy back’ the tragedy in Ukraine for electoral reasons.

Was it a publicity stunt?

Sort of. Macron has an official photographer, Soazig de la Moissonière, and during the election campaign she has been releasing 10 photos every day showing life with candidate Macron, on her Instagram account.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ©Soazig de la Moissonnière (@soazigdelamoissonniere)

Most of them are fairly run-of-the-mill and show Macron in a suit shaking hands with other men in suits.

The hoodie photo was taken on Sunday and shows Macron taking part in another round of international phone diplomacy as he continues to work with other world leaders to find a solution to the Ukraine crisis.

As it’s a Sunday, he’s in casual clothes, looking less groomed that usual – if there is an intended message it’s probably ‘No days off for the leaders of the free world’.

The photo that most media are using is actually a cropped version of this picture (below) showing Macron raising an eyebrow at the photographer as he leaves the Salon Doré (aka his office) in the Elysée Palace.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ©Soazig de la Moissonnière (@soazigdelamoissonniere)

What’s in a sweater?

The suit is very much Macron’s trademark, but those who know him say he’s always been a casual dresser while off duty and has long had a penchant for hoodies. It’s therefore unlikely that he bought this one especially for the photo.

Macron does sometimes don a black polo-neck sweater for official announcements – often when he’s trying to appeal to more left-wing voters by donning the uniform of the French intellectual left – and he’s sometimes photographed on holiday looking more relaxed in chinos and a shirt.

If you’ve ever been curious about the presidential knees, here’s a video of him competing in a charity football match.

Member comments

  1. The key thing with trying to look heroic is first do something heroic ( NB telephone calls to the enemy don’t count )

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‘Public opinion is ready’ – These French senators want to legalise marijuana

A group of 31 French senators of the Socialist, Green and Republican parties have come together to write a statement calling for the legalisation of marijuana in France.

'Public opinion is ready' - These French senators want to legalise marijuana

France is known for having some of the strictest laws regarding marijuana consumption in Europe – while simultaneously maintaining one of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the EU. 

A group of French senators – coming from the Socialist, Green and centre-right Les Républicains parties – are trying to change those laws, and have come together to call for marijuana to be legalised in France.

The group of 31 co-signed a statement published in French newspaper, Le Monde, on Wednesday, August 10th.

In the statement, the senators promised to launch a ‘consultation process’ to submit a bill to legalise marijuana “in the coming months.”

The proposition was headed by Senator Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, a member of the Socialist Party, and gained support from the party’s leader, Patrick Kanner.

READ MORE: The long and winding road towards changing France’s cannabis laws

A report by the Assemblé Nationale, which was published in May 2021, estimated that nearly 18 million French people (more than 25 percent of the population) had already consumed marijuana, and that an additional 1.5 million consume it regularly.

This, coupled with the 2019 finding that nearly one in two French people (45 percent) said they were in favour of legalisation, according to a survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), helped strengthen the senators’ position.

“Public opinion is ready, the legislature must act,” they wrote.

Their senators argue that legalising marijuana in France will allow the authorities to better protect French citizens, saying that legalising would not require “minimising the health impacts of cannabis consumption” but rather would allow regulation similar to “public policies for tobacco, alcohol or gambling.”

For the group of 31 senators, the benefits of legalisation would involve a better control over the “health quality of products consumed,” “curbing trafficking in disadvantaged areas,” developing large-scale prevention plans,” and finally the taxation of cannabis products and redirection of law enforcement resources. Decriminalisation – in their opinion – would not be sufficient as this would simply “deprive authorities the ability to act,” in contrast to legalisation. 

READ MORE: Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

“In the long term, new tax revenues would be generated from the cannabis trade and from savings in the justice and police sectors”, which would make it possible to mobilize “significant resources for prevention as well as for rehabilitation and economic development,” wrote the senators.

In France, the conversation around cannabis has evolved in recent years – former Health Minister (and current government spokesman) Olivier Véran said to France Bleu in September 2021 that “countries that have gone towards legalisation have results better than those of France in the last ten years,” adding that he was interested in the potential therapeutic use of cannabis.

Currently, the drug is illegal in France. Previously, it fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.

However, in 2020, the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.

There is also an ongoing trial involving 3,000 patients to test the impacts of medical marijuana usage, particularly with regard to pain relief.