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

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.

French MP Jean Lassalle is running for the Presidency for the second time.
French MP Jean Lassalle is running for the Presidency for the second time. (Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP)

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. 


Member comments

  1. Un berger à l’Elysée should be a shepherd at the Elysée Palace
    Un fermier à l’Elysée is a farmer

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.