Posters of Barack Obama have popped up around Paris in what started as a joke by four friends calling for the former US president to run for the Élysée Palace. The organisers say they began plastering Obama posters around Paris because they were disenchanted with the homegrown candidates in France’s forthcoming presidential election. While the posters read “Oui on peut”, the French translation of Obama’s “Yes we can” slogan, the US president cannot run in France’s presidential election as a foreigner. And yet more than 42,000 people have already signed an online petition linked to the poster campaign, calling for the 44th US president to become the 25th president of the French Republic.
Articles about voting issues in the French Republic.
Hurrying home from work, Noellie Benison paused to take in the grinning poster of the former U.S. president, flanking a busy meridian in northern Paris. “Obama 2017,” she read out. Below: the French translation of his famous tagline, “Oui, on peut” — “Yes we can.” “If Obama runs, I’ll vote for him, that’s for sure,” said 55-year-old Benison, who is planning to cast a blank ballot in this spring’s presidential vote. “We’ve lost our confidence,” she added, dismissing the current crop of candidates. “They’re all the same.” What started as a joke over beers by a quartet of Parisians in their 30s has made international news in less than a week. Today, Obama2017.fr – an online petition to put Barack Obama on the French ballot, has received 50,000 signatures, its organizers say.
The communications coup of the French presidential election so far goes to far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon who, with a flick of his fingers, appeared at two simultaneous rallies 350 miles apart and created more internet buzz than he could have imagined. The technology required was nothing new – he does not have the money – but the performance was done with panache. Walking on stage in Lyon, Mr Melenchon materialised at exactly the same moment in hologram form before supporters in Paris. He then made a speech to both audiences for 90 minutes. He likes to talk.
Afterwards Mr Melenchon claimed 60,000 live followers of the event on Facebook and YouTube. Millions more in France and around the world read about the exploit afterwards and clicked online for a taster. In publicity terms it was magisterial. The Melenchon doppelganger shows how – like so much else in these elections — the communications pace is being set not by the mainstream parties, but by the outsiders. Of course these days no political outfit is complete without its e-guru advising on digital outreach. But in France 2017, the acknowledged masters of the reseaux sociaux (social networks) are Mr Melenchon for the far-left and Marine Le Pen for the far-right.
Russia’s meddling in the US election is well documented. It is now accused of doing the same in France. France is a more important target for Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader abhors the idea of blocs of countries acting together. Multi-national groupings like the EU give their members a combined clout he cannot match leading a country whose economy is no bigger than Italy’s. It makes sense for Mr Putin to seek the break-up of the European Union. His intervention in the US elections helped bring to power a man who championed Brexit and whose rhetoric undermines the EU. Mr Putin knows Marine Le Pen can helped deliver his strategic goals in Europe. The far-right French presidential candidate has threatened to pull France out of the eurozone and a hold referendum on EU membership. Many economists doubt the single European currency can survive the former and predict an ensuing economic catastrophe across Europe. The EU is also unlikely to remain intact if a majority of French people voted for a Frexit.
French police raided the headquarters of Marine Le Pen’s Front National party on Monday as part of an investigation into alleged misuse of European Union funds to pay parliamentary assistants. The European parliament has accused Ms Le Pen, a French presidential candidate and MEP, of paying FN party staff with EU funds which it says should only be spent on European parliamentary assistants. It has demanded Ms Le Pen pay back nearly €340,000 (£290,000) and, faced with her refusal to repay the money, has said it will start docking her salary in order to recover the funds. The search at the far-Right party’s headquarters in Nanterre, west of Paris, was confirmed by FN officials, who said it was the second time the offices had been raided. They accused the French judiciary of conducting a political smear campaign.
Suspected Russian cyberattacks on the French presidential campaign are “unacceptable”, France’s foreign minister said Sunday, adding it was clear that pro-Europe candidate Emmanuel Macron was being targeted. A spokesman for Macron, who is currently riding high in the polls, has accused Moscow of being behind a flurry of cyberattacks on his campaign website and email servers over the past month. “It’s enough to see which candidates, Marine Le Pen or Francois Fillon, Russia expresses preference for in the French electoral campaign,” Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in an interview with Journal du Dimanche. “Whereas Emmanuel Macron, who is pro-Europe, is being targeted by cyberattacks,” he added. “This form of interference in French democratic life is unacceptable and I denounce it.”
France: Marine Le Pen rival Macron targeted by hundreds of Russian hack attacks and fake news smears | IBT
The most likely candidate to win France’s May elections Emmanuel Macron has been the target of hundreds if not thousands of Russian hacks and a fake news smear campaign the head of his party has said. Richard Ferrand the chief of Macron’s independent Onwards Party has said Kremlin controlled media including Russia Today and Sputnik have engaged in a fake news campaign against the candidate. “Two big media outlets belonging to the Russian state Russia Today and Sputnik spread fake news on a daily basis, and then they are picked up, quoted and influence the democratic (process),” Ferrand was quoted by Reuters as saying. Macron has been accused by the Russian media as being part of the US global banking elite by both international facing but Kremlin backed outlets. The party official’s comments come on the heels of an interview given by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in which he claimed to have damaging information on the centre-left candidate.
France says it will not accept meddling by Russia or any other country in its upcoming presidential election, and that it could respond to such interference with “retaliatory measures.” The remarks by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on February 15 come in the wake of what U.S. intelligence officials have described a Kremlin-directed campaign of hacking and public-opinion manipulation that aimed to help President Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “We will not accept any interference whatsoever in our electoral process, no more from Russia, by the way, than from any other state,” Ayrault told parliament. Ayrault said France could respond to such meddling with “retaliatory measures when that is necessary.”
France said on Wednesday it would not accept interference by Russia or any other state in its presidential election, and would retaliate if necessary. The pledge by Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault followed complaints by the party of election frontrunner Emmanuel Macron that his campaign was the target of ‘fake news’ put out by Russian media, as well as internet attacks on its databases. “We will not accept any interference whatsoever in our electoral process, no more from Russia by the way than from any other state. This is a question of our democracy, our sovereignty, our national independence,” Ayrault told parliament. He said France would set clear limits, “including retaliatory measures when that is necessary, because no foreign state can influence the choice of the French, no foreign state can choose the future president of the Republic.”
France: Did Russia Hack French Elections? Kremlin Denies Pro-Marine Le Pen Cyberattacks, Despite Emmanuel Macron Claims | IBT
Russia denied meddling in French elections Tuesday after a top aide to French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron alleged Russia hit Macron’s campaign with hundreds of cyberattacks. Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s defense minister, said last week French intelligence agencies were attempting to fortify cybersecurity surrounding the election. The announcement followed allegations Russia intended to interfere in French elections in favor of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who is sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Intelligence agencies said they were concerned Russia would saturate the internet with bots leaving pro-Le Pen comments.