In Brief

Paris mayoral candidate quits after sex tape scandal

Resignation of close ally of Emmanuel Macron ‘marks a turning point in French public life’

Emmanuel Macron has chosen his health minister to run for mayor of Paris after his first choice was forced to step down following the release of a sex tape.

Agnes Buzyn will contest the race next month after Benjamin Griveaux's hopes of becoming mayor of the capital were dashed following the release of a video of him in what the BBC calls “a compromising position” last week.

Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky and his girlfriend have been questioned by police over accusations of invasion of privacy and “broadcasting images of a sexual nature without the permission of the person involved”.

Pavlensky, who gained notoriety in 2013 for nailing his scrotum to Red Square in protest at the Putin regime, was granted political asylum in France in 2017. He has admitted publishing the videos on a pornographic political website, saying he did so to highlight Griveaux’s “hypocrisy”.

The Guardian says that Griveaux, a married father of three, “had made family values a major part of his election campaign”.

The videos of him performing a sexual act on himself were made in May 2018 and sent to a woman, reported by French media to be 29-year-old lawyer De Taddeo, along with a series of text messages

CNN says “his resignation enraged many in France - including his political rivals - who decried what they feared was an assault on France's liberal attitude to sex”.

Incumbent Mayor Anne Hidalgo appealed for respect for people's private lives, while far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon condemned the attack as “odious”. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen suggested that for the sake of democracy Griveaux should perhaps not have resigned.

Yet “his decision to bow out marked a turning point in French public life, with senior politicians hit by sex scandals in the past brushing them off as purely private matters” says France24.

The scandal could also have political implications for Macron and his party.

Bloomberg says the last-minute change of candidate “is the latest setback for the French president, whose approval rating dropped to a national poll average of 32% in January”.

Griveaux was not favourite to win the mayoral race in March, “but he has been a very close ally of the president and his political demise is inevitably an embarrassment for the president”, the BBC's Hugh Schofield reports.

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