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French President Emmanuel Macron looks on during a joint news conference with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov at Euxinograd residence, near Varna, Bulgaria, August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov(reuters_tickers)
PARIS (Reuters) - Social media commentators and political opponents of Emmanuel Macron tore into the French president on Friday after it emerged that he spent 26,000 euros ($30,901) on makeup during his first 100 days in office.
Macron won a landslide second-round election victory in May over far-right leader Marine Le Pen but his early popularity has proven short-lived, in part because of cuts in housing benefit and other sacrifices he is imposing on the French people as he fights to reduce a big budget deficit.
Confirming the cost of the makeup on Friday, Macron's staff were at pains to point out that the bill was smaller than that of his predecessors and said it was a temporary situation that would soon by be replaced by a less costly arrangement.
"We had to call on a provider at very short notice," one official told BFM TV. Many public officials use makeup for television appearances and other engagements.
Florian Philippot, Le Pen's right hand man who ran a campaign targeting ex-banker Macron as the "candidate of cash", tweeted his disapproval: "While France toils, Macron smears 23 times the minimum wage on his face," he wrote.
Unofficial pollster @SondageLiveFr on Friday opened voting on whether the cost was normal or unacceptable after several social media users called the saga "Makeupgate."
Others juxtaposed 'before-and-after' pictures of the Game of Thrones' Night King and other famous fictional uglies next to the dashing 39 year-old.
French media leapt on the subject. Even the ultra-serious broadsheet Le Monde had carried a report on it within a day of the original revelation in weekly Le Point on Thursday.
The media is already critical of Macron's aloof approach to journalists since he was elected and critical of his declared desire to be a 'Jupiterian' head of state above the day-to-day political fray.
The fuss comes just over a year after Macron's predecessor, Francois Hollande, was pilloried by his opponents for paying a personal hairdresser 10,000 euros a month.
(Reporting by Andrew Callus; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)