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The SCP sorting the flood of letters. Screenshot from Le Parisien.

Macron couple flooded with letters of distressed citizens

The controversies surrounding Brigitte Macron is known to everyone in France, but the news that seven people are needed to read the flood of letters and e-mails that the first lady receives, has nevertheless created havoc.

Published: July 23, 2019, 9:10 am

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    Paris

    On 18 July, the French newspaper Le Figaro, investigated the costs of the Elyseé Palace,  highlighting the fact that Madame Macron’s correspondence is financially burdensome.

    In fact, Brigitte Macron spent 279 144 euros in one year, especially in her personal capacity. Expenditures that, added to those of her husband, have made their budget exceed 5 million euros compared to what was expected.

    Among the various items, highlighted Le Figaro, the most expensive disbursement of the première dame was for seven agents of the presidential correspondence service, who have to deal with the 19 500 letters sent by the French during the past year: 6 500 in more than the previous one.

    Brigitte indeed received as many as 140 letters a day, much more than her predecessors. The notable need of the French to communicate with the Macron couple had already been noted by the editorial staff of Le Parisien, the newspaper of the region of the French capital , the Île de France, which had highlighted, that the dog of the presidential couple, Nemo, was also a gift.

    One of the most discreet places is the service of the correspondence of the presidential palace (SCP), installed in a wing at Alma, at the edge of the Seine. It is there, in these old royal stables installed 3 km from the Elyseé, that the missives addressed to Emmanuel Macron and his wife arrive. Just writing his surname on an envelope, followed by his title, means the letter will arrive safely. There is no need to stick on a stamp either. “If you write to the president or Santa, you are exempt from postage,” according to the French Post Office.

    An amazing machine detaches these letters at the rate of a hundred per minute. “They are open and counted,” says Maxence Den Heijer, head of the SCP. Every day, about 1000 letters arrive.

    “In the sorting room, six gloved officials (for reasons of hygiene and safety) are responsible for peeling the missives which are read once before being classified in stamps stamped “urgent”, “petition”, “unworkable”, says the head of correspondence. Messages of insults remain a dead letter.

    Many protest against the government’s decision to reduce speed on secondary roads at 80 km/h and adolescents also turn to the president for clarification on the baccalaureate reform or the universal national service.

    Above all, however, pensioners have taken up the pen to talk about their distress and to explain the consequences of the rise of the CSG (Generalised Social Contributions).

    “People share their difficulties. Some send us all their files, their accounts … “, explained Geoffroy Lechevalier, head of the sorting center.

    There are two types of missives. First, these requests from French citizens who write to the head of state “as a last resort” in order to challenge a court decision, or to ask for a place in a nursery … ” said Maxence Den Heijer.

    Sometimes the distress is blatant, as with a suicide. “Then it activates a special procedure, and the prefecture is contacted,” says the boss of the SCP.

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