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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Celebrity candidates in the French local elections

No, it's not a newly-invented television programme along the lines of  "Celebrity Squares", the British comedy game show based on the original US "Hollywood Squares".

Instead it's a look at some of those French "celebrities" who've taken the plunge and decided to stand in the country's local elections.

And with more than 900,000 declared candidates fighting it out for places on one of the 36,552 councils up and down the country and the 128 overseas, it's perhaps not surprising that a few "famous faces" have decided to jump on the political bandwagon.

Perhaps the best-known one is the popular TV game show host Vincent Lagaf'.

The 54-year-old presenter of such delights as "Bigdil" ("Let's make a deal" in the United States) and most recently  "Le Juste Prix" ("The price is right") has taken time out from his day job to campaign in his home town of Cavalaire-sur-Mer in the département of Var.

Lagaf' (under his real name Vincent Rouil) occupies last place on Philippe Leonelli's 29-strong list so stands no chance of being elected, but that hasn't stopped the TF1 showman from throwing himself into "the cause" of increasing the profile of the town.

"It's by no means a political reconversion," he said.

"It's just that I would like to suggest ideas for activities and events - my area of expertise."

Vincent Lagaf' (source Wikipedia, author - M.Mopie)

Mathieu Johann is a name some of you might (???) remember if you were glued to your boxes watching the fourth series of the TV talent show "Star academy" back in 2004.

Since then, he has carved out a moderately successful music career (not taking into account the one album he hs released) by opening a couple of café-concert bars in his native town of Saint-Lô in the département of La Manche.

And that's where the 33-year-old has decided to stand, announcing to his "fans" on Facebook that he would be appearing on the list headed by François Brière.

Johann is third on the list - so stands a pretty good chance of being elected - but maybe it would help if he pointed out to people that he appears under his real name of Mathieu Lepresle.

Moving swiftly along, and another singer - this time one who can claim real success - has also taken the decision to stand in the town in which he was born.

It's Grégoire (surname Boissenot) of "Toi + Moi" fame (you surely remember his first hit in 2008) and a string of singles since including last year's  pretty awful  ""Si tu me voyais" from his third album which was kindly "chosen" for your "delectation" as a Friday's French music break.

Have no fears though, Boissenot isn't planning to give up his music career. The 34-year-old is just "lending his support" to the current mayor of Senlis in the département of Oise, Pascale Loiseleur, on whose list the singer is 28th out of 33 candidates.

Grégoire (screenshot from the official video for "Si tu me voyais")

Another candidate who took his first tentative steps in the world of music (the first season of X Factor) before moving on to modelling and now politics, is Bruno Clavet.

The 24-year-old has decided to throw in his lot with the far-right Front National (FN) and is the party's candidate in the race to be mayor of the IIIème arrondissement in Paris.

When he announced his candidacy and published a photo of himself with the party's founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen on Twitter, Internet users had a field day, reworking some of Clavet's former modelling photo's into fake campaign posters.

Bruno Clavet, spoof campaign poster (source Twitter)

"When I first approached Jean-Marie Le Pen, I was a little unsure as to how he would react," said Clavet, who now describes himself as a "student in strategy and public affairs"

"But he was 100 per cent behind me and happy that young people wanted to become involved in politics."

Municipales à Paris: quand un candidat FN... par leparisien

From the realms of TV reality (well, you know it had to happen) comes Cindy Lopes - a former contestant on that intellectually challenging show "Secret Story".

The self-proclaimed "grande gueule" is to bring all her charm and diplomacy to Guy Juin's list in the town of Villeneuve-le-Roi in the suburbs of Paris, where she has been living for almost three years.

Fourth on a list of 33 candidates, Lopes says that, "Being a big mouth is very popular in politics. I am well respected in this town and I have also great respect for people."

Should she be elected, Lopes says she'll still have plenty of time to continue making television appearances (in delightful programmes such as "Les Anges de la téléréalité"  presumably, in which former reality contestants try out for new careers in...oh, you Google it) because "politics won't be a full time occupation."

Now there's a great campaign slogan.

Finally, Alexandre Piel was supposed to have lent his considerable bulk to Laurent Bonnaterre's list in the town of  Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf in the département of Seine-Maritime.

In fact there was a great deal of media interest when Piel, who was crowned one of the Mister Universe winners in Hamburg last year, announced in January that he would be standing on the Socialist party's list.

But it all went a little pear-shaped for the 39-year-old a few days later when he was taken into custody for questioning.

While that might be an ideal launching pad for political life at a national level, neither sex nor financial impropriety was the reason for Piel being questioned.

Rather it was the suspicion of doping after police intercepted a package from Thailand addressed to Piel that contained anabolic steroids.

Bonnaterre issued a statement saying he had spoken to Piel and the bodybuilder had "presented his apologies as well as his intention to withdraw himself from the list."

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