It’s tough to lead a country, but there are some compensations. From the taxpayer-funded mansions to the top-notch security details, world leaders get benefits for all the long hours and the pressure—some of which go beyond lavish digs and sizable paychecks.
But not all presidential perks are created equal, and some seemingly excessive ones can cost more in political blowback than they’re worth. French President Emmanuel Macron may have learned this last week after it was revealed he spent a total of 26,000 euros ($30,000) on makeup just three months into his term. Macron’s aides dismissed the expenditure as being due to a “moment of urgency” (René Dosière, a former socialist deputy, told French broadcaster France Info the amount was justified because the president of the Republic is “very regularly photographed”), adding that they would look for cheaper alternatives. Still, the revelation comes at an already awkward time for the young leader, whose approval ratings have taken a near-historic nosedive as he attempts to pass controversial reforms that include reining in public spending and overhauling the country’s labor code.
Though Jupiter, as the French president has been called, is the latest politician to be criticized for aesthetic excess, he certainly isn’t the first. Here’s a world tour of countries whose leaders have taken executive privilege to a whole new level.
France. In 2016, it was revealed that former French President François Hollande paid his personal hairdresser a monthly salary of $10,000. The high-priced haircut stood in stark contrast with the Socialist leader’s “Monsieur Normal” persona, which he earned while campaigning on a platform of frugality and spending cuts. Hollande defended himself against Coiffeurgate, as the scandal was known, by reminding his critics that he reduced government spending by 9 million euros, including reducing the Élysée Palace’s staff by 10 percent and cutting his own salary by 30 percent. “You can reproach me on anything you like,” he told reporters during his annual Bastille Day interview, “but not on that.”