French health minister steps up to Paris mayor race after sex tape scandal

French health minister steps up to Paris mayor race after sex tape scandal
Agnes Buzyn is the new LREM candidate for Paris mayor. Photo: AFP
French health minister Agnès Buzyn has been selected to replace the candidate for Paris mayor who was toppled by a sex tape scandal last week.

Benjamin Griveaux resigned from the Paris mayoral contest on Friday after a sex tape featuring him was leaked online by Russian performance artist Piotr Pavlensky.

His resignation caused a headache for Emmanuel Macron's La République en Marche party, which is predicted to do badly in next month's municipal elections and which had set it sights on wresting control of Paris City Hall from the present incumbent, Anne Hidalgo of the Socialist Party.

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Married father-of-three Benjamin Griveaux resigned from the race on Friday. Photo: AFP

Hidalgo is currently leading in the polls with just under a month to go until voting starts. She is followed by Rachida Dati of the centre right Les Républicains party, while Griveaux had been in third place until he dropped out.

Also running are David Belliard of the Green party and Cedric Villani – a former member of LREM who was expelled from the party after refusing to stand aside for Griveaux in the mayoral contest. He is now running as an independent.

Buzyn, a former doctor who has been health minister since 2017, is generally regarded as one of the more popular figures in the Macron government.

She told AFP that: “I'm going for it with the aim of winning.”

Over the weekend Pavlensky and his girlfriend, who is reportedly the former girlfriend to whom Griveaux sent the video of himself masturbating accompanied by explicit messages, were arrested on charges of invasion of privacy and publishing images of a sexual nature without consent.

Spreading intimate images without the consent of the person featuring in them is forbidden in France, punishable with up to two years in prison and €60,000 fine.

The case has sparked major debate in France, where the sexual misconduct of politicians had previously been regarded as a purely private matter.

Numerous public figures – including Grvieaux's political enemies – have denounced the release of the videos as the 'Americanisation' of politics.

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Buzyn has been replaced as health minister by Olivier Véran, a former neurologist and member of parliament since 2012.


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