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The World This Week - 29 August 2014

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France

French far-left leader reveals assets, weight, shoe size

Text by Rachel HOLMAN

Latest update : 2013-04-12

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the head of France’s far-left Parti de Gauche party, has become one of the latest politicians to publically disclose the details of their personal finances amid a government tax scandal, in a witty and sardonic blog post.

Over the past few days, French politicians of all persuasions have precipitated an expected bill requiring public officials and elected leaders to publicly disclose their personal assets, by taking it upon themselves to divulge the details of their wealth. Some have done it willingly, others have done it begrudgingly, but none have done it with as much wit and sarcasm as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of France’s far-left Parti de Gauche party.

Taking to his personal blog, Mélenchon published an acerbic post this week in which he provided information about his finances, shoe size and weight. While Mélenchon’s words may have drawn a few laughs, they also echoed criticism by other politicians of the government’s push to introduce legislation aimed at creating greater transparency in the wake of an embarassing tax-evasion scandal. Former French prime minister François Fillon slammed the so-called “moralisation of politics” bill as a sort-of “voyeurism”, while others have branded it as downright invasive.

Although Mélenchon described the media frenzy and pressure on politicians over the issue as nothing short of “malice”, he also laced his commentary with humour and derision.

“My name in Jean-Luc Mélenchon. I was born August 19, 1951 in Tangier in Morocco. I am 1.74 metres tall. I weigh 79 kilos. My shirts are a size 41/42. My pants are a size 42. My shoes size is 42. All of my hair is completely natural and dye-free,” the far-left leader wrote.

Mélenchon also took aim at both French President François Hollande and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, stating that he had “not inherited a castle to live in”, in reference to the Elysée palace, nor had he been handed “a party created by my father,” a clear allusion to Le Pen’s Front National party.

Adopting a more serious tone, Mélenchon then delved into the details of his personal finances, listing a three-bedroom apartment in Paris’ trendy 10th arrondissement and a net savings of 150,000 euros as among his assets.

The far-left leader, however, ended his post on a more playful note.

“I don’t know the value of the works of art that I have created with my paintbrush, my pencil or my camera. I think they must be of considerable worth,” Mélenchon wrote, before concluding with an off-beat appeal to the public. “I’m looking to buy a bigger home in my neighbourhood and I thank anyone who has an interesting proposition.”
 

Date created : 2013-04-12

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