Posters of Barack Obama have popped up around Paris in what started as a joke by four friends pretending to launch a campaign for the former US leader ahead of France’s presidential election.
Even though the former US president cannot legally run in the two-round April-May election as a foreigner, the jokesters’ online petition has been signed by more than 42,000 people.
The organisers, who came up with idea over beer, say they launched the website and began plastering Obama17 posters around Paris because they were disenchanted with the candidates running in France’s election.
The slogan is “Oui on peut” – French for “Yes we can”.
“We like saying it’s a joke, but in truth the idea takes its roots in us being fed up with French citizens rejecting politics,” said one of the organisers. “We’re scared this (rejection) will push people to vote for candidates outside the system like Trump in the US. We don’t want that,” she told BFM TV.
The online petition states that it hopes to reach a million signatories before March 15 in favour of Mr Obama in time for the closing date for candidacies, even if his inclusion is the election is impossible, as it is only open to French nationals.
Why Mr Obama? Because, it says, he has “the best CV in the world for the job”, it is “still possible to vote for a president and not against a candidate”, and because “at a time when France is about to vote massively for a far-Right candidate, we can teach the rest of the planet a lesson in democracy by electing a French president who is a foreigner”.
Front National candidate Marine Le Pen is polling to come first in the election’s first round on April 23 and then to lose to Emmanuel Macron, an independent ex-economy minister on a “neither Right nor Left” ticket in the run-off on May 7.
The organisers say they want citizens to take back control of the elections and are admirers of the Podemos group in Spain, pointing out that the English translation for the movement is close to Mr Obama’s catch phrase of “Yes we can”.
Aides of front runner Mr Macron have already likened him to Mr Obama.
“I see a campaign dynamic that is the same,” claimed Laurence Haïm, spokeswoman of his En Marche! (On The Move!) who lived in America until recently.
Source: The Telegraph News UK