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Macron Ally Withdraws Paris Mayoral Bid After Sexual Videos Emerge Macron Ally Withdraws Paris Mayoral Bid After Sexual Videos Emerge
(about 2 hours later)
PARIS — A member of President Emmanuel Macron’s party on Friday withdrew from the race for Paris mayor less than 48 hours after private sexual videos he allegedly sent to an unidentified woman were published online by a Russian dissident artist who was granted political asylum in France. PARIS — A member of President Emmanuel Macron’s party on Friday withdrew from the race for Paris mayor after private sexual videos he allegedly sent to an unidentified woman were published online by a Russian dissident artist who was granted political asylum in France.
The withdrawal of the candidate, Benjamin Griveaux, who blamed “vile attacks” against him and his family, was one more blow to Mr. Macron’s efforts to rally his party for coming municipal elections across the country. The withdrawal of the candidate, Benjamin Griveaux, who blamed “vile attacks” against him and his family, was a sharp blow to Mr. Macron’s efforts to rally his party for coming municipal elections across the country in which he is expected to do poorly.
Mr. Griveaux announced he was dropping out after the videos began circulating publicly on Wednesday evening. The newspaper Libération reported that the videos were first circulated online by Pyotr Pavlensky, a Russian performance artist who has become notorious in Europe for his dramatic acts of protest. The race in Paris had been considered, initially at least, a rare potential victory for Mr. Macron’s party, La République en Marche, or Republic on the Move. With Mr. Griveaux’s withdrawal, the president’s plans for Paris have been thrown into disarray.
Mr. Pavlensky told Libération that he published the videos to expose Mr. Griveaux as hypocritical because the candidate invoked “family values” and “always mentioned his wife and children as an example” during the campaign. Mr. Griveaux, 42, announced he was dropping out after the videos began emerging publicly on Wednesday evening. The newspaper Libération reported that the videos were first circulated online by Pyotr Pavlensky, a Russian performance artist who has become notorious in Europe for his dramatic acts of protest. He once set fire to the entrance of the Bank of France in 2017, for which he received a three-year prison sentence, two of them suspended.
Mr. Pavlensky told Libération that he had published the videos to expose Mr. Griveaux as hypocritical because the candidate invoked “family values” and “always mentioned his wife and children as an example” during the campaign.
“I don’t mind people having the sexuality that they want,” Mr. Pavlensky said, “But he wants to be the head of the city and he is lying to voters.”“I don’t mind people having the sexuality that they want,” Mr. Pavlensky said, “But he wants to be the head of the city and he is lying to voters.”
It was not clear how Mr. Pavlensky obtained the videos, which purport to show a private text conversation that included sexual videos sent from Mr. Griveaux to an unidentified woman. Mr. Griveaux has been one of the most visible members of Mr. Macron’s party. He was the face of the government on television, having served as Republic on the Move’s chief spokesman from the early months of Mr. Macron’s presidency until last spring, when he resigned to run for mayor of Paris.
Mr. Pavlensky, who received asylum in France in 2017 after criticizing the Russian state, could not immediately be reached for comment. The end of Mr. Griveaux’s campaign has all but dashed Mr. Macron’s hopes of taking the city, long dominated by the French left, away from Anne Hidalgo, the current Socialist mayor. Mr. Griveaux was central to Mr. Macron’s efforts: Over the past few months, he attempted to build a local power base in the French capital and rally support among local politicians from both the left and right.
A grim-looking Mr. Griveaux said in a video statement on Friday morning, “It has gone too far.” His departure from the race also comes at a troubled time for Mr. Macron’s party, as some of its representatives in the French Parliament are trickling away, threatening the president’s majority. Some 13 have either left citing disillusionment with the president or have been kicked out since the beginning of Mr. Macron’s presidency, with the latest departure taking place a week ago.
But lately, Mr. Griveaux’s campaign in Paris had been performing poorly, with polls showing his trailing Ms. Hidalgo and the candidate of the right, Rachida Dati. In the French news media, Mr. Griveaux was criticized for seeming distant and arrogant, even though he tried to capitalize on his status as a young married father of three.
Mr. Macron’s attempt to intercede in his favor ended in failure last month, when he tried to persuade the dissident candidate Cedric Villani, a prominent mathematician-turned-politician who left the presidential group to run independently, to leave the mayor’s race. Mr. Villani rebuffed Mr. Macron’s efforts, which was seen as a humiliation for the president.
In France, unlike in the United States, the private lives of politicians and candidates are widely seen as being out of bounds in elections, and the publication of the videos was swiftly and widely condemned. Mr. Macron’s interior minister and close ally Christophe Castaner quickly vowed criminal consequences for the online publication of the video.
Mr. Pavlensky could conceivably face up to a two-year prison sentence for a conviction.
It was not clear how he had obtained the videos, which purport to show a private text conversation that included sexual videos sent from Mr. Griveaux to an unidentified woman. Mr. Pavlensky, who received asylum in France in 2017 after criticizing the Russian state, could not immediately be reached for comment.
A grim-looking Mr. Griveaux responded to the release of the messages in a video statement on Friday morning, saying, “It has gone too far.”
He did not explicitly refer to the videos, but said that for the past year his family had been “subjected to defamatory statements, lies, anonymous attacks, the disclosure of stolen private conversations, as well as death threats.”He did not explicitly refer to the videos, but said that for the past year his family had been “subjected to defamatory statements, lies, anonymous attacks, the disclosure of stolen private conversations, as well as death threats.”
Mr. Griveaux said that a “new stage” had been reached after a “website and social media” began circulating “vile attacks” involving his private life. Mr. Griveaux said that a “new stage” had been reached after a “website and social media” began circulating “vile attacks” involving his private life. He added: “My family does not deserve this. No one, fundamentally, should be subjected to such violence.”
“My family does not deserve this,” he added. “No one, fundamentally, should be subjected to such violence.” His withdrawal prompted dozens of people across the political spectrum to express their support and to denounce what some called “revolting” attacks. In French news outlets and on television, commentators denounced what they called the “Americanization” of French politics.
Mr. Griveaux, 42, a married father of three, had served as Mr. Macron’s government spokesman and is one of his main allies. He was a top Macron aide during the 2017 presidential campaign and was elected that year to the lower house of Parliament as a member of La République en Marche, Mr. Macron’s party. Aurélie Filippetti, a former minister of culture under the Socialist government of President François Hollande, wrote on Twitter that “what happened against” Mr. Griveaux was “disgusting.” She added, “How far will we go in shame and abomination?”
He left his job as spokesman in March 2019 to prepare for his Paris mayoral bid.
The end of Mr. Griveaux’s campaign has all but dashed Mr. Macron’s hopes of taking the city of Paris, long dominated by the French left, away from Anne Hidalgo, the current Socialist mayor. Mr. Griveaux was central to Mr. Macron’s efforts: Over the past few months, he attempted to build a local power base in the French capital and rally support among local politicians from both the left and right.
Mr. Griveaux, however, had several hurdles to win the post.
He was facing a dissident candidacy by Cédric Villani, a mathematician and former lawmaker in La République en Marche who had been kicked out of the party after he refused to stand down despite losing the nomination.
In addition, Mr. Griveaux’s poll numbers were dropping, even though Paris, where Mr. Macron and his party have scored well in past elections, represented one of the president’s best chances for taking over a major French city.
The publication of the videos was swiftly and widely condemned in France. And Mr. Griveaux’s withdrawal announcement prompted dozens of people across the political spectrum to express their support for Mr. Griveaux and to denounce what some called “revolting” attacks.
In France, the private lives of politicians and candidates are widely seen as being out of bounds and irrelevant in political debates and elections.
Aurélie Filippetti, a former minister of culture under the Socialist government of President François Hollande, wrote on Twitter that “what happened against” Mr. Griveaux was “disgusting.”
“How far will we go in shame and abomination?” she added.
Mr. Villani, the dissident candidate, said on Twitter that the publication of sexual materials on Mr. Griveaux was “a serious threat to our democracy.”Mr. Villani, the dissident candidate, said on Twitter that the publication of sexual materials on Mr. Griveaux was “a serious threat to our democracy.”
And Ms. Hidalgo, who is running for a second term, released a statement calling for a “respect of privacy and respect of individuals.” She added that Paris residents deserved “a dignified debate.” Ms. Hidalgo, who is running for a second term, released a statement calling for a “respect of privacy and respect of individuals.” She added that Paris residents deserved “a dignified debate.”
Mr. Griveaux’s successor as government spokesman, Sibeth Ndiaye, denounced what she called “stink bombs” in “a lowdown campaign where there are no limits.”
Constant Méheut contributed reporting.Constant Méheut contributed reporting.