Celebrities give their support to candidates

18th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 18, 2007 (AFP) - France's film glitterati, hip-hop artists, rockers and sports celebrities are lending some of their star power to the main contenders in the race for the presidency.

PARIS, April 18, 2007 (AFP) - France's film glitterati, hip-hop artists, rockers and sports celebrities are lending some of their star power to the main contenders in the race for the presidency.

The grande dame of cinema, Jeanne Moreau, who won international acclaim with her role in Jean-Jacques Truffaut's "Jules et Jim", is backing Socialist Segolene Royal, familiarly known as "Sego."

Blockbuster actor Gerard Depardieu says he will vote for rightwing frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy, or "Sarko", as the "only able politician, who really works and does the job."

Rocker Johnny Hallyday, the French Elvis, has made several high-profile appearances with Sarkozy, the 52-year-old former interior minister who supported his controversial decision to go into tax exile in Switzerland.

Support from showbiz and sports personalities is nothing new in French presidential campaigns, but it has reached new heights in the current race as candidates seek to finetune their image ahead of the first round of voting on Sunday.

"If your appeal is lacking among young voters, having young stars backing you can without a doubt be of help," commented Marc Fourny, the chief editor of Gala celebrity magazine.

Fourny said star-chasing was symptomatic of the Americanisation of French politics and drew a parallel with the Hollywood frenzy surrounding Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Royal, who has made jobs for France's youth a key plank of her campaign, has been seen grooving on television to the music of hip-hop star Diam's, whose songs blast "Sarko le demago" (Sarkozy the demagogue).

The 53-year-old Socialist candidate has also turned up at a Paris comedy club to hear one her most enthusiastic supporters, Jamel Debbouze, who starred in the Oscar-nominated film "Indigenes" and "Amelie".

Sarkozy may have been hoping to smooth over his tough-guy reputation in the high-immigrant suburbs with the support of rapper Doc Gyneco.

Doc Gyneco, who even wrote a book earlier this year entitled "Great Minds Think Alive: Sarkozy and Me", was arrested for drunk driving in January and has not been seen in Sarkozy's circle of celebrity friends since.

A long-distance runner and football fan, Sarkozy at the weekend was joined by football stars David Ginola and Basile Boli, tennis champion Nathalie Tauziat and taekwondo medal holder Pascal Gentil at a campaign event where he promised to put more sports programmes in schools.

But French football star Lilian Thuram, who plays for Barcelona, has slammed Sarkozy for holding "a racist discourse" after he proposed the creation of a ministry for immigration and national identity.

Former tennis champion-turned-singer Yannick Noah, one of France's best-loved celebrities, has said he will vote for Royal and warned that Sarkozy as president would be a disappointment to children of immigrants, like Noah.

"I would be deeply disappointed if Nicolas Sarkozy won, for myself, for all immigrant workers, for all the people who are forced every day to prove that they are French, even if they were born in France," said Noah, whose father is from Cameroon and mother is French.

Among lesser known candidates, Communist Revolutionary League Olivier Besancenot may have been outshined by the support of British filmmaker Ken Loach, who won the top prize at the Cannes film festival last year for "The Wind that Shakes the Barley."

Loach praised Besancenot, a 33-year-old postman, for opposing privatisation in France which he said had ruined Britain's transport, health and education services and said the radical leftist would defend workers' rights "against the big corporations."

As for Juliette Binoche, star of "Chocolat" and "The English Patient", she is voting for anti-globalisation campaigner Jose Bove, saying he "does politics in a different way."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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