French voters call on Barack Obama to run in country's presidential election

Website and poster campaign calls on French people to make a 'radical choice' by signing a petition — already 30,000 signatures strong — asking former US President to run in leadership race

May Bulman
Friday 24 February 2017 11:17
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Voters in France are vying for Barack Obama to become their next President, in a wild bid to bring about a “sixth Republic” in the French presidential elections this year.

A website and poster campaign launched on Monday, titled “Obama17”, calls on French people to make the "radical choice" of signing a petition asking that the former US President to run for the position of 25th head of state in the 2017 leadership race.

More than 30,000 people have so far signed the petition, and photos of posters mounted around Paris have been widely shared on social media.

The creators of the campaign, four Parisians in their thirties who have decided to remain anonymous, said the idea arose from growing discontentment with the choice of candidates, and a desire to "make people smile" amid "repeated scandals" coming out of the approaching election.

One of them, who simply called himself "Barack", told The Independent: "It arose from a conversation with friends. We decided that we didn't want to vote for any of the candidates in this election, and that it has been the same for the last few elections. We are fed up of voting against people rather than for someone we actually support every time.

"So we thought it would be ingenious to give the power to Obama, since he's now available."

Asked whether they were serious in their endeavour, Barack said: "It is ultimately a joke. We want people to wake up in the morning and, rather than have to see our usual candidates, rejoice in seeing Obama's face on the 500 posters we put up on the streets of Paris, and get away from the repeated scandals we are hearing about.

"The reaction from people has been brilliant. It's what they want. The funniest thing is when people first thing it's totally crazy, but then ask themselves: 'Actually, why not?'"

Barack said the group behind "Barack2017" did not express politcial views, but that it was "certain" that they wouldn't be voting for Marine Le Pen.

The approaching French election, for which the first round of voting begins in April, has caused concern among many French people due to a number of scandals that have emerged about candidates and the prominence in the polls of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

The "Obama2017" website's homepage cites the "inevitable failure of the next presidential election" and call on voters to sign the petition to "get France out of its lethargy".

“The French are ready to make radical choices. That is good because we have a radical idea to propose to them," it states.

“After a phantom five-year-term and faced with the announced failure of the next presidential election, we think it is time to move to the sixth Republic to get France out of its lethargy.

“To launch this sixth Republic, we wish to strike a blow by electing a foreign president as the head of our beautiful country.

“Barack Obama completed his second term as President of the United States on January 21, now why not hire him as President for France?”

The site proceeds to list several reasons why people should sign the petition, including a claim that Mr Obama “has the best CV for the job”, and a rallying cry that voters must "teach the world a lesson in democracy [...] at a time when France is about to vote for the extreme right.”

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