Whistles to condoms: French election candidates branch out into merchandise

For those truly invested in the French presidential race, simply casting a vote might not be enough - instead there is a wide range of branded merchandise from the candidates. Here is our pick of the strangest offerings.

French election merch anyone?
French election merchandise anyone? (Photo by Christophe SIMON / AFP)

The parties all have their ranges and other unofficial sellers have also been cashing in, with the result that you can now buy a wide range of French election momentos, from socks and T-shirts to frisbees and condoms.

Here is our pick of some of the weirder pieces of 2022 election memorabilia:

Faites Zemmour pas la guerre t-shirt

Eric Zemmour’s team are selling t-shirts emblazoned with the words Faites Zemmour pas la guerre

This is a play on words with the expression Faites l’amour pas la guerre (“Make love not war”). 

Considering that the far-right candidate has vowed to increase the defence budget to €70 billion by 2030 and further develop France’s nuclear arsenal, the text is somewhat ironic. 

There’s also the fact that French investigative website Mediapart has reported on eight woman testifying to having suffered inappropriate behaviour and sexual assault by Zemmour between 1999-2019.

Zemmour began a romantic relationship with his chief campaign adviser, Sarah Knafo, in 2021 – despite being married. 

Le Pen whistle

Marine Le Pen, another far right challenger to the incumbent Emmanuel Macron also has a wide range of bizarre merchandise. 

On her party’s website, you can buy Rassemblement National-branded pétanque balls, bluetooth headphones and coffee cups. 

You can also purchase a 2022 calendar full of pictures of Marine Le Pen (not saucy ones) and an alert whistle inscribed with the words Français Reveillez-vous (Wake up France). 

Candidate-themed socks 

A store called Chaussettes et Compagnie, based in Lille, has capitalised on selling socks with pictures of the candidates printed above the ankle. 

A pair costs €13 and you are able to choose between masked and unmasked candidates. 

“Socks, like the vote, are useful,” reads the company website. 

“The disenchantment of the French with politics is growing. It is time to make it less anxiety-provoking and lighter.” 

Taubira jackets 

Christiane Taubira, a former French Justice Minister, failed to collect enough signatures of support to even make it onto the ballot paper, withdrawing her candidacy in early March.

This was bad news for tailors in the West African country of Ivory Coast, who had clearly poured considerable effort into making suit jackets, trousers and face masks in support of the would-be candidate. 

Historic prints of Anne Hidalgo’s grand statement

The left-wing French newspaper Libération is selling archived copies of its February 4th issue for €5. 

Anne Hidalgo who is competing in the race as the socialist party claims to be the “legitimate candidate” to represent the left on the front page of the paper. 

The French left is catastrophically divided as the first round approaches and Hidalgo is polling at about 2 percent – behind other left-wing figures like Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Yannick Jadot and even the Communist candidate Fabien Roussel. 

Hidalgo’s claim to be the legitimate candidate to unite the left is looking increasingly farcical. 

High end 

The Elysée Palace, where French Presidents live, has its own boutique

The goods it currently sells are largely banal symbols of French culture – Elysée-branded bags, Elysée tea, Elysée candles and wide variety of other home goods. 

But a fair chunk of the stock represents an hommage to Macron. You can buy posters of the President for €9.90 or a stuffed toy version of the president’s dog (Nemo) for €99. 

There are also T-shirts featuring Macron’s famous silhouette from his celebration of France’s 2018 Football World Cup win or some of the President’s trademark phrases like poudre de perlimpinpin.

It is unlikely that the site will offer goods with some of his other quips like when he said he wanted to emmerder the unvaccinated or described his fellow countrymen as fainéants (lazy),  gens qui ne sont rien (nobodies), or Gaulois réfractaires (Gauls who are resistant to change).

One week after Macron first launched the Elysée store in 2018, a parody site called Enlysée boutique was set up, selling goods that poke fun at the President. 

Fight for the right to party

Finally, no round up of strange French electoral mementos would be complete without mentioning the communist frisbee sold by Fabien Roussel. 

For just €5 plus €3 postage you can buy one of these plastic disks with the candidate’s campaign slogan, Le défi des Jours Heureux (“the challenge of happy days”), written on it. Roussel’s campaign is also selling earrings, lighters and condoms.

The revolution sounds like it is going to be a party. 

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Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.