A few days ago residents of Paris began to see an unexpected sight. Plastered on walls all over the city were professional looking posters suggesting Barack Obama was running for the French presidency, posters complete with the slogan “Oui on peut” (which translates to, as you might expect, “yes we can”). This is, of course, impossible, Obama is not a French citizen, nor has he any claim to be one (indeed in a campaign, if anyone were to demand his birth certificate, they would this time, find he was born in the wrong country!).

However, the relative success of this petition not only suggests things about French politics but the international view of the United States.

How this came to be

This petition does not seem to be genuine attempt to get Obama into French politics, but instead, is a satirical piece of political protest. The campaign was thought of by four friends in Paris who were disillusioned by the current roster of those running for office. Currently leading the presidential race is head of the far right, National Front party headed by Marine Le Pen. Were she to win, she would be the first far-right leader elected into office in Europe since WWII.

This is reiterated on the campaign’s website (translated from the original French) where it says: “At a time when France is about to vote for the extreme right massively, we can give the world a lesson in democracy by electing a foreigner as President of France”.

It appears they believe that radical change is key to fighting political disillusionment and the rise of the far right.

Respect and Admiration

Out of all global figures, they could select for this campaign, why Obama?

Of course, now that he has finished his second term, he theoretically has the time. But, interestingly the website says that Obama “has the best resume in the world for the job”.

Being the leader of the free world for eight years obviously, gives Obama the experience. Though Obama is not the only person living to have held that position, to have gained that experience.

His selection here can really suggest one thing, there is such a level of admiration and respect for Obama, that it eclipses, not only all the other former presidents but all former heads of the state regardless of country. This respect for the US president may have left with Obama had, as Trump’s international reputation is questionable.