A high-profile far-right politician in France has blamed an unflattering selfie for his party’s failure at recent elections in the country.
And to show he’s serious, Jean-Marie Le Pen is suing the person that took the snap.
Dancer Brahim Zaibat, who happens to be an ex-boyfriend of Madonna, took the shot (above) of a slumbering Le Pen during a flight last December, one day before the French public went to the polls in regional elections.
“Knockout the [National Front] tomorrow by going to vote,” Zaibat wrote in an accompanying caption before posting the image on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As Le Pen dozed, the image started doing the rounds on the social sites, eventually picking up hundreds of thousands of likes, comments, and shares.
The party failed to make the gains many observers had forecasted, leading Le Pen to single out the selfie as the likely cause of its disappointing performance.
An incensed Le Pen is claiming €50,000 (about $55,000) in damages from Zaibat, and also wants a public apology. The politician claims the selfie “harmed his image and was instrumental in the defeat of the party,” and also breached his privacy, French magazine Public reported.
Le Pen, who founded France’s National Front party in 1972 before leading it for nearly 40 years, was actually booted out of the organization in 2015 as the new leader, who happens to be his daughter, worked to soften its hard-right image. However, judging by his recent actions, Jean-Marie is clearly still loyal to the cause, and believes he continues to hold some sway over the electorate.
The first hearing of Le Pen’s complaint is scheduled for January 22. Zaibat has so far refrained from commenting on the situation, though presumably he might think twice about taking a photo of a sleeping politician next time he stumbles across one.