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Friday, 12 December 2014

Closer magazine "outs" Front National's Florian Philippot

So a prominent member of the far-right Front National (FN), Florian Philippot, is apparently  gay.

Florian Philippot (screenshot i>Télé interview November 2014)

It's not exactly a secret, although not a story with which the media the rest of the French media has been prepared to run.

Until, that is, the weekly celebrity news and gossip magazine, Closer, decided "to break the silence" by publishing photographs in its latest edition of Philippot and his partner, on a break in Vienna.

Yes, Closer - that bastion of first-rate journalism whose credo seems to be that "scandal and sauciness" are newsworthy and has made its mark by publishing unauthorised long lens photographs, is proving true to its reputation.

Remember back in 2006 those photos of Ségolène Royal clad only in a bikini on a beach?

Or in 2012  the shots of the Duchess of Cambridge, topless while on a private holiday in the south of France?

And more recently the French president, François Hollande, snapped on a scooter as he made his way to a late night liaison with actress Julie Gayet?

Those were all "stories", complete with photographs published by Closer.

The magazine's latest "target", in what it presumably once again hopes will help boost sales, has been the subject of "rumour" for quite a while.

In fact a "gay lobby" within the FN was was suggested by the far-right weekly newspaper Minute in January 2013 when it claimed on its front cover that "le lobby gay s'introduit partout" - the media, all political parties and even the FN.

At the time, Philippot accused the newspaper of "stigmatising homosexuals and spreading rumours".

Such tittle tattle certainly seemed to put the party's leadership at odds with its declared position at the time of being against gay marriage as the bill to make same-sex marriage legal made its way through parliament with accompanying demonstrations of those opposed to the government's proposals.

The party's  leader, Marine Le Pen, said she was against the reform, but left it open to individual members to decide whether they would join the demonstrations.

So it's perhaps not a surprise that Le Pen "defended" Philippot when the news that Closer had outed him.

"This is a very serious violation of individual freedoms.," she told Europe 1 radio.

"This type of behaviour is unacceptable for Florian Philippot just as much as it was for François Hollande.  Private life is sacred."

Le Pen's reaction has been mirrored by other politicians  across the political spectrum and Tweets (what else) of outrage that what was essentially a private matter should, as far as Closer is concerned, be of public interest.

Proof that the real "scandal" is not that Philippot is gay - that's neither relevant to his political ideas nor particularly interesting.

Rather that a magazine such as Closer should be allowed to continue to "sell" based on publication of unauthorised photos.

Monday, 8 December 2014

François Hollande's Kazakh fur hat and coat photo does wonders for his "plonker" image - yet again

The French president, François Hollande, might have a reputation for being an academic egghead  - an alumnus of the prestigious École nationale d'administration (ENA) and all that.

And he's equally well-known for cracking jokes (not always successfully) and (unfortunately) being chronically late for meetings.

But sadly, France's head of state also has a reputation for unintentionally (well, you would hope so) appearing to make a complete and utter pillock of himself - and that's putting it politely - not only with what he says (he masters the slip-of-the-tongue) but how he looks.

The rain fell on Hollande's parade (quite literally) from the very beginning (and has continued to do so with alarming frequency) in terms of his image when he got a real soaking just after being sworn in as president.

In fact, "Rain man" as Hollande has sometimes been unkindly termed, has become something of a standing joke within the media as bad weather just seems to have followed the French president from one official function to another (with the occasional exception of course).

Then there was the time, just a couple of months after being elected, during a state visit to London in July 2012 when Hollande appeared "dwarfed" by a Coldstream Guard (complete with the traditional bearskin of course) while inspecting the Guard of Honour.

A photo which amused many.

And few will forget the unfortunate snap taken by Agence France Presse during Hollande's visit to a school in Denain in northern France in September 2013 which had all the hallmarks of a "gormless grin" with Hollande seeming to "gurn".

You can see all those (and more) by searching through Twitter posts as every one of them quickly became the object of ridicule on the social network.

Just as Hollande's latest "plonker" PR (disaster) picture has.

This time it had him swaddled in a traditional Kazakh fur hat and coat as he posed with the country's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, during a meeting in Astana last week.

Aie, aie, aie!

What was Hollande thinking of?

François Hollande and Nursultan Nazarbayev (screenshot - i>Télé report)

Where was his communications team? Apparently absent or at least unable to intervene.

But even without them, did he have to make himself look like a complete buffoon?

Yes, it would seem. Hollande had little or no choice and was just doing as previous leaders (such as Barak Obama) had done before him.

Plus, the photograph was taken by Nazarbayev's official photographer and posted on the Kazakh press service's Instagram account before being withdrawn.

Too late. The anger and embarrassment at the Elysée palace was accompanied by another round of online jokes as once again, Hollande became an international laughing stock.

Great PR for the French president and for the country.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Nicolas Sarkozy and Alain Juppé - the battle of the opinion polls

Another day, another poll - and one involving the former president, Nicolas Sarkozy...of course.

Well it is France after all.

Yes, there are other things happening in France - and not just in the world of political surveys.

Sarkozy, for example, is busy "pleasing all" (or trying to)  and attempting to unite the centre-right Union pour un mouvement populaire (Union for a popular movement, UMP) as he puts together a team resembling a shadow cabinet (divisions included) since winning, in less convincing fashion than he had probably anticipated, the battle for the leadership of his party last weekend.

But the poll looks to the future (er...don't they always, in so far as they're asking speculative questions?) and in particular the expected (political) handbags at dawn "combat" to become the UMP's candidate for the 2017 presidential campaign.

Anyway the latest poll, carried out - just before the UMP leadership election - by YouGov on behalf of the all-news channels i>Télé and Le Huffington Post.

It's essentially to show in order of popularity, how French politicians (or at least their images) rate with the public - "about which of these - answer as many times as you wish - do have a positive opinion?"

And the outcome is that the big winners in the past month (the so-called "Tops"), in terms of how they're perceived by the French electorate at large are Bruno Le Maire and the man who could well push Sarkozy all the way in the expected primary to be the UMP's next presidential candidate, Alain Juppé.

Nicolas Sarkozy and Alain Juppé at a meeting in Bordeaux, November 2014 (screenshot AFP report)

The tables aren't exactly easy to read (when are these things ever - go to this link and open the pdf file) but the Huff Post neatly sums up the survery's findings with Juppé and Le Maire both on the upswing (their "Tops" and Sarkozy losing a few points 'and appearing among the "Flops").

Oh yes...and look at who's at number two on the "positive" list - Marine Le Pen.

Just for a bit of fun, take a look also at the second table which shows those politicians who most engender a negative image (the Flops).

Right up there towards the top (just after Jean-Marie Le Pen and ahead of Jean-François Copé and Marine Le Pen) is Sarkozy - surely adding to the general feeling that he is able to unite and divide opinion (a little like Marine Le Pen) at the same time but one thing's for certain...he doesn't leave anyone indifferent.

Oh yes...and there's a slight increase in the popularity of the current president, François Hollande, and the prime minister, Manuel Valls. But not enough to be of any real significance.

They really need a better PR team - or perhaps policies that actually work...whoops.

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