A group of French citizens has launched Obama17, a guerrilla campaign to try to entice former U.S. President Barack Obama to seek France’s highest office.
“It’s totally crazy,” a campaign organizer who asked to be identified as Antoine told CNN. “But the cool thing is that once you get past that, you start thinking that maybe it’s possible. Who cares that he’s not French? He’s Barack Obama.”
According to Antoine, the campaign has a website, and volunteers hung 500 posters of Obama around Paris last weekend. They are circulating a petition urging Obama to run, and hope to get a million signatures.
Antione admits that the campaign is a joke—but one with a pointed message.
“We want to show that people are fed up with the politicians here. People are tired about it and they like this joke,” he said. “It gives people a little fun amid all these scandals.”
— Ludovic Gautier (@Senordiezz) February 22, 2017
The first round of voting for the new president of France is April 23. If none of the candidates receive more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two finishers on May 7.
Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party, is leading in the polls. She is expected to receive the most votes, but to fall short of the absolute majority a candidate needs to win outright.
“We are so fed up with what Marine Le Pen is doing,” Antoine said, “and with the fact that we weren’t able to find a candidate to vote for, only one to vote against. We started talking about that and it came up that Obama is free—so why not hire him?”
— Alexis Barrassin (@alexisbarrassin) February 22, 2017
Antoine knows that Obama is unlikely to go along with the campaign’s joke. But he claims that their efforts have encouraged people to contact them with serious advice regarding topics such as getting around the issue that Obama isn’t a French citizen.
“We’ve had some funny emails from lawyers telling us how it could be possible.” Antoine said. “He would have to be naturalized by the president of the French Assembly.”
Antione is unsure whether Obama is aware of the campaign, but he remains hopeful.
“I think if Barack Obama answers this, there will be a huge amount of reaction,” Antoine said. “I think he might like this kind of thing. People in France would get crazy, especially young people. But he won’t say yes to our proposal.”
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