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A small detail reveals how French elite is disconnected from reality

An anecdote delivered as part of a sentence during a hearing on Wednesday, in front of the Commission of Senatorial Investigation, has riled French voters.

Published: January 19, 2019, 10:40 am

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    The revelations made by Emmanuel Macron’s chief of staff, Patrick Strzoda, during his hearing, have not only greatly contributed to tightening the judicial vacuum around Alexandre Benalla in the curious case of his diplomatic passports, but also revealed Strzoda’s expensive tastes.

    Without being directly asked about details, Strzoda admitted to having “tasted a Dalmore 1962” in front of an episode of the television series Columbo.  It is a particularly annoying detail which was captured by the Public Senate cameras, when one knows the cost of such alcohol.

    For good reason, this drink is called “the most expensive whiskey in the world “. Dalmore 62 – and not “1962”, reveals that it has aged for 62 years. It costs 250 000 Singapore dollars, which is about 150 000 euros.

    This tidy sum was disbursed in 2011 at an auction held at Changi Airport when a bottle went to a wealthy Chinese businessman, according to an article from The Guardian. Some 104 000 euros was spent in 2017 for another of these rare bottles, but was not enough to break the previous record.

    If Patrick Strzoda did not specify the provenance of the whiskey he was able to enjoy on the night of New Year’s Eve, this confession is disturbing to say the least.

    In the midst of the crisis of the Yellow Vests and with Chantal Jouanno having to give up on the great national debate because of her five-figure salary, this detail of the private life of the director of cabinet of the Elysée is not going not to help fix the reputation of President Macron.

    In a matter of days before France was due to embark on a national debate with the Commission nationale du débat public, in response to weeks of protests by Yellow Vests, Jouanno, the former minister selected to lead the exercise, had to resign.

    Jouanno was due to be paid 9.78 times the minimum wage, another staggering example of how out of touch Europe’s political elite are with their respective electorates.

    But the comments of the mayor of Saint-Cirgues, Christian Venries have perhaps been the most biting against the President.

    On January 18, Emmanuel Macron met local officials in Souillac in the Lot as part of his tour for the great national debate. Venries, at the beginning of the discussion, quickly set the tone of his speech: “I warn you, Mr President: This debate must not become the big bluff!”

    Venries denounced elites disconnected from reality: “Before making laws in your Paris office, start by discussing projects with those who manage daily life on the ground. This will save you, the elites from imposing laws on us.”

    Applauded by the room, Venries spoke of measures taken in Paris leading to “devastating effects” on rural territories. He told the president: “Give mayors back their power. The town halls became empty shells, […] while they were the first place of proximity and connection with the state!”

    Venries then launched a personal attack on Macron: “Stop stigmatizing, opposing, despising because it only generates incomprehension and violence,” he said in front of an audience of 600 mayors.

    “Stop attacking the weakest, the most precarious, the most destitute,” Venries continued. At the same time, the camera showed Emmanuel Macron laughing.

    The head of state responded by saying that he was “deeply attached to all of our fellow citizens”.

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