French presidential hopeful, Alain Juppé, in front of his campaign poster
Alain Juppé & his minimalist campaign poster

Alain Juppé, at the age of 70, has been in French politics since the early 1980s and the most consistent question he’s asked these days is whether his age is a problem. This must be very annoying, but mostly he seems to lightly brush off such questions.

Perhaps in a response to this he has gone with a very minimalist poster—AJ! pour la france—in his bid to become the presidential candidate for Les Républicains, in competition with Nicolas Sarkozy (80% of the public say they don’t want him back, but he’s very popular with the party faithful) and François Fillon (Prime Minister under Sarkozy).

In the French alphabet J is pronounced “zhee” /ʒi:/ (rather like our G) and G is pronounced “zhey” /ʒe/ (rather like our J), so his initials in the poster read like Agit! pour la france  (“Act/Take action for France”). Some wags have altered it to AG, i.e. Âgé! pour la france  (“Elderly for France”).

His latest campaign appearance was hanging out with Jeunes pour Juppé (his young supporters) at un pub playing beer pong in a (clearly just purchased) casual shirt, so perhaps his team are a little concerned about the age thing. Is this the solution? I’m not so sure.

All in all, if you have to have a conservative, Juppé doesn’t look so bad these days, though it might just be the contrast. He comes across as the least divisive and does seem concerned about the National Front, rather than racing to court their vote like Sarkozy. It’s a sign of the times that he is both praised and condemned for approving the construction of a mosque as Mayor of Bordeaux. Sad that it should even be in question.