French Elections: 5 things you didn't know about Jean Lassalle

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 15 Mar, 2022 Updated Tue 15 Mar 2022 12:19 CEST
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French MP Jean Lassalle is running for the Presidency for the second time. (Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP)

Jean Lassalle is a big personality and has been involved in French politics since 1977, but he failed to make a dent during the last presidential election.


He has been fined by the Assemblée nationale 

66-year-old Jean Lassalle has been an MP for the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département since 2002. 

He is known for his outlandish antics in the Assemblée nationale, the lower house of the French parliament. He had €1,500 docked from his salary in 2018 for refusing to remove a Yellow Vest during a parliamentary session. 

Lassalle wore the vest in solidarity with the protest movement and said that he paid the fine "with honour and pride". 


He grew up speaking Occitan 

Jean Lassalle grew up in an Occitan speaking area of France deep in the Pyrénées. 

He comes from a family of shepherds who practice a prehistoric form of nomadic agriculture known as transhumance. 

Lassalle is proud of his roots. During a televised debate on BMFTV in the run up to the 2017 presidential election, he described himself as the "son of a shepherd, the brother of a shepherd". 

He has even written a book titled Un berger à l'Elysée - A Farmer at the Elysée. 

In 2003, he stood up and started singing the Occitan anthem, Se Canta, in the Assemblée nationale. The move was a protest against what he saw as a slur on the Pyrenees by then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Many other MPs cracked up laughing. 


He spent 8 months walking across France (and was disappointed by what he found)

Lasalle walked across France for eight months in 2018, to gain a better understanding of the population.

“Everywhere I went I witnessed a crisis in the standard of living, a loss of identity and the loss of a sense of a common destiny,” he told Europe 1. 

During his 4,500km journey, he said that he was shocked by the level of racism and antisemitism among ordinary citizens. 

In the run up to the 2022 presidential election, he is touring the country in a big blue bus with a photo of his face and the message La France Authentique emblazoned across the side. 

Jean Lassalle spent 8 months walking across France in 2013, covering 4,500km.

Jean Lassalle spent 8 months walking across France in 2013, covering 4,500km. (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP)

He went on hunger strike to protect jobs in his constituency 

Jean Lassalle has been an elected representative, in some capacity, since 1977. 

In 2006, when a Japanese firm sought to relocated a paint factory that employed hundreds of his constituents, he went on hunger strike. The company eventually agreed not to close the factory and continue investment in the area. 

Lassalle lost more than 20kg over the course of his hunger strike. 


He is partial to a topless photo shoot 

In the run up to the 2017 election, Lassalle inexplicably posted multiple shirtless photos videos online. 

He was snapped chopping wood, trimming hedges and mowing the lawn. For someone in his 60s, he is is good shape and it clearly runs in the family - his son is a professional rugby player in the French second division. 




The Local 2022/03/15 12:19

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singalonginla 2022/03/15 21:58
Un berger à l’Elysée should be a shepherd at the Elysée Palace Un fermier à l'Elysée is a farmer

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