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The best quips from French politicians in 2022

A Communist Party MP has won an annual prize for humour in politics for his comment about fuel prices and petrol station hold-ups

The funniest phrases and jokes uttered by French politicians this year have been decided by a panel of journalists Pic: Maxime Tschanturia / Shutterstock

A French Communist Party MP has been awarded this year’s ‘Press Club, humour et politique’ prize for a joke he made about fuel prices.

The prize, which journalist networking platform Press Club has been running for the last 20 years, “rewards he/she who says the most hilarious comment of the year, whether deliberately or not”. 

Fabien Roussel’s prize-winning joke was as follows: “La station d’essence est le seul endroit en France où celui qui tient le pistolet est aussi celui qui se fait braquer” (literally: “Petrol stations are the only places in France where the person holding the gun is also the person being robbed”). 

The MP and party secretary play on the double meaning of ‘pistolet’, which can mean ‘gun’ but also ‘nozzle’, so referring to the petrol and diesel dispensers.

Mr Roussel made the comment on TF1 on March 14.  

A dig at Valérie Pécresse 

Also recognised by the Press Club prize was a joke made by Nicolas Sarkozy while speaking to Le Point about Les Républicains candidate Valérie Pécresse’s presidential campaign. 

He said: “Ce n’est pas parce que tu achètes de la peinture, une toile et des pinceaux que tu deviens Picasso. Valérie Pécresse, elle a pris mes idées, mon programme, et elle a fait 4.8%”. 

This translates as: “It is not just by buying paint, a canvas and brushes that you become Picasso. Valérie Pécresse took my ideas, my manifesto, and she got 4.8% [of the vote].”

Other ‘jokes’ honoured by the panel include former Assemblée nationale president Richard Ferrand’s “Élisabeth Borne est formidable mais personne ne le sait” (“Élisabeth Borne is wonderful but no one knows it”). 

Denouncing the ‘audacity’ of Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe also said of Jean-Luc Mélenchon: “Il faut une certaine audace pour que quelqu’un qui a été battu à une élection où il était candidat puisse penser qu’il sera élu à une élection où il n’est pas candidat !” 

In English this would be: “It takes a certain audacity for someone who has been beaten in an election where he was a candidate to believe that he will be elected in an election where he is not a candidate!” 

This was in reference to Mr Mélenchon’s call for the public to force President Emmanuel Macron to make him prime minister by voting for his party La France Insoumise in the legislative elections in June. 

Paris’ Socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo, was also recognised for her comment: “Tous les matins, je me lève en me disant que tout le monde m’aime” (“Every morning I get up telling myself that everyone loves me”).

In response to a statement by Ms Hidalgo, the Les Républicains mayor of Paris’ seventh arrondissement, Rachida Dati, said: “Votre présence au Conseil de Paris est aussi anecdotique que votre score à la présidentielle”. 

In English this would be: “Your presence at the Conseil de Paris is as trivial as your result in the presidential election.” 

Sandrine Rousseau of the Europe Écologie - Les Verts party raised eyebrows with: “Je voudrais qu’il y ait une possibilité de délit de non-partage des tâches domestiques” (“I want to make it a crime to not share out household tasks”) and “Il faut changer aussi de mentalité pour que manger une entrecôte cuite sur un barbecue ne soit pas un symbole de virilité”. 

This translates as: “We must also change the mentality that eating a rib steak cooked on a barbecue is a symbol of virility.” 

The last politician to win the Press Club award was former minister Marlène Schiappa, who said in 2021: “On ne va pas s’interdire les plans à trois” while defending a bill she proposed to fight against polygamy. 

This sentence translates to “We are not going to forbid threesomes.” 

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