Sarkozy's cronies make song and dance of it

Political video by youth wing of President's party spawns internet spoofs
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The Independent Online

An all-singing and all-dancing video by President Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-right political party has become the mocking buzz of the month on French-language websites. The three-minute clip, in which several cabinet ministers and a former prime minister lip-synch and "dad dance" to a 1970s pop song, has spawned half a dozen instant parodies, including a rap version.

The video was made by the youth wing of President Sarkozy's party, the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), or Jeunes Populaires. Days before its official launch, the short film, showing the politicians bopping with varying degrees of talent and conviction – had become what the French call un tube, or a hit.

The "singing" MPs include some of the best-known faces in French politics, such as the Finance minister Christine Lagarde, the Sports minister Rama Yade and the Employment minister Xavier Darcos. They join a group of earnest and well-scrubbed young UMP members in performing to the lyrics of a 1976 French hit "Tous Ceux Qui Veulent Changer Le Monde" ("Everyone Who Wants To Change The World").

The clip, or "lipdub", also features a brief debut performance as a pop singer by the former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. Somewhat bizarrely, it also includes a shot of a blind French pop star, Gilbert Montagné, driving a car.

Does France have talent? Other centre-right politicians – perhaps jealous not to have been invited – have reacted like Simon Cowell on a bad day. The former education minister, Luc Ferry, said the clip made him "want to vomit". Yves Jego, the former minister for French overseas territories, said: "Honestly, I think that this was a mistake."

A Facebook group has been formed to call for the song, and the singers, to be the French entry for next year's Eurovision song contest. The spoof "fan" group declares the glamorous Ms Yade to be the "next Chantal Goya" and the school-teacherly Ms Lagarde to be "more sexy than Vanessa Paradis". In the space of five days, 26,664 people have joined. A Facebook "fan page" supporting the video had 331 adherents last night.

The Jeunes Populaires video was much flagged in advance as an exciting initiative to give President Sarkozy's party a fresher, more dynamic image before awkward regional elections in March. The youth movement, wounded by the interest shown in its work, said yesterday that the reaction had been "grossly disproportionate".

On YouTube and its Francophone equivalent Daily Motion, the video has rapidly generated several spoofs. One has clever rap lyrics that play on a controversial off-the-cuff remark by another UMP politician, the Interior minister, Brice Hortefeux. He was recently recorded on TV saying of a young North African UMP member: "One of them is all right. It is when there are a lot that it causes a problem".

In the re-dubbed, rap version of the UMP clip, the performance of the Senegalese-born minister, Ms Yade, is accompanied by the words: "One of them is all right. It is when there are a lot that it causes a problem."

The appearance of the blind singer driving a car is dubbed with the words: "Blind men are all right. It is when they drive that it causes a problem."

The video is not only an unwanted internet triumph – it has got the Jeunes Populaires into legal hot water. The group obtained permission to use the song, written and recorded by the French-Canadians Luc Plamondon and Christian St-Roch in 1976. By mistake, the video used another version, recorded recently by a Quebec singer, Marie-Mai. Legal negotiations are in progess.