Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 16:47 UK

Sarkozy irks female MPs with gift

Nicolas Sarkozy
Mr Sarkozy tends to favour discreet, sometimes spotted, ties

The French president has irritated female members of parliament by sending them what they say is an ill-judged gift to mark France's EU presidency.

Nicolas Sarkozy's office sent a sleek black case to all MPs, male and female, including a pale grey tie.

Socialist MP Aurelie Filippetti proclaimed it "yet more proof of male chauvinism in the political class".

Others took it more lightly, gamely adding the ties to their outfits or even wearing them as headbands.

Junior minister Nadine Morano - one of Mr Sarkozy's most loyal staffers - defended her boss's blunder by saying that "even for a woman, wearing a tie can be nice," the Guardian reports.

Some 18% of deputies in the National Assembly - a total of 107 - are women.

Mr Sarkozy chose many women for cabinet-level posts, including Justice Minister Rachida Dati and Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.

Women also hold the finance, higher education, culture and agriculture ministries and the health, youth and sports portfolio in Mr Sarkozy's cabinet.

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