FEATURE - Sex Tape Scandal Leaves Macron Without Paris
PARIS (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 15th February, 2020) The "court" of French President Emmanuel Macron is in turmoil as his chosen candidate for Paris' mayoral office quit the race after inappropriate photos and videos, allegedly of him, surfaced online.
Benjamin Griveaux was handpicked by Macron to take over the Paris mayor's office, a position with political importance that goes beyond governing a city. This is the first time Macron's La Republique En Marche! (LREM) party is putting up a candidate for the position. Currently, Paris is run by Socialist Anne Hidalgo.
In a message recorded on Friday morning, Griveaux announced that he had retired his candidacy after "some internet sites spread ignoble attacks" on his private life.
"My family does not deserve this. No one should suffer such abuse ... This has gone too far," Griveaux said.
The so-called attacks he referred to was the publication of a recording of a smartphone screen featuring an alleged conversation between Griveaux and a young woman, in which he sent her a video of him masturbating and a photo of his erect penis. The recording was posted on pornopolitique.com, a website created by Russian artist Petr Pavlensky, who obtained political asylum in France in 2017.
In an interview with French newspaper Liberation published on Friday, Pavlensky, who is known for his political performance art, said that he had obtained the content from someone who had had a consensual relationship with Griveaux. Pavlensky said that by publishing it he wanted to denounce "the hypocrisy of Benjamin Griveaux."
"He is someone who constantly stands for family values, who says that wants to be a mayor of families and uses his wife and children as an example, but it is all the other way around," Pavlensky said. Griveaux is a father of three.
The scandal fell like a cluster bomb on the Elysee Palace and everyone in Macron's party, which now has to find a new candidate.
In any case, Griveaux was never among the favorites to win. He was always behind Hidalgo and ring-wing candidate Rachida Dati in the polls, and received less support than mathematician Cedric Villani, who chose to leave LREM rather than give up her bid for Paris mayor, which the president demanded that she do.
Griveaux, who served as the secretary of state of the Finance Ministry and then the government's spokesman during the beginning of Macron's presidency, is also generally not very popular. He provoked a great deal of the ire among yellow vest protesters when he described them as "those types who move around in diesel vehicles and spend the day smoking." Later, as Macron's official candidate, he referred to other candidates of his own party as "fools" and "sons of bitches."
Griveaux is also known to be close to social-democrat Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister who has been embroiled in his share of sex and other scandals.
French politicians have condemned the circumstances that made Griveaux drop out. Specifically, they have denounced the attacks on privacy, labeling them an "abomination," "disturbing climate," and "market of garbage," among other expressions. Mayor Hidalgo has even issued an appeal for the respect of people's privacy.
The French scandal is comparable to those experienced in the United States, where various politicians have also had to give up their careers over similar circumstances as Griveaux. Unlike the United States, however, France used to boast that national mass media respected politicians' private lives. But in reality it was political pressure and threats that prevented private information from seeing the light of day, as shown in the case of the double life of former President Francois Mitterrand, who supported his mistress and their daughter with public funds.