Jpolitical journalist and editor at Decision Makers MagazineLucas Jakubowicz is the author of the book One animal to rule them all, published by Arkhé. Why do French presidents very often own a dog? Why do politicians in the election campaign love to appear with pets? If the relationship between animals and power is very old, their presence today in the political world is a key weapon to attract the favor of voters.
Point : All the presidents of the Ve Republic presents a dog, all the American presidents of the XXe and of the XXIe century will present a domestic animal, you write. Why ?
Lucas Jakubowicz: Because we are in a democracy and the goal in a democracy is to obtain the maximum number of votes in elections. To do this, we must seduce by showing citizens that we look like them, that we are like them, that we have qualities such as empathy. The dog makes it possible to show this empathy, to show this closeness with regard to the American or the French of the middle class who, quite often, have a domestic animal. Moreover, it is no coincidence that American presidents all have a Labrador dog, because the Labrador is the family dog par excellence, the most consensual dog. In the United States, when Joe Biden becomes a Democratic candidate, he wants to seize the blank vote of the Swing States. According to several polls, the most popular dog in these states is the German Shepherd. And what is Biden doing? Just before declaring himself, he adopts a German Shepherd puppy.
What qualities does owning a dog highlight?
The dog is a very affectionate and grateful animal, which rubs against its owner, which licks his hand, and which proves that the person who owns it is a nice person. In a democracy, when you pose next to a partying dog or when you walk it, it proves that you are a nice person. This shows that the head of state is not just a bogeyman. Taking care of a dog takes time, you have to walk it, feed it, train it, it shows that you have time to devote to others. For this reason, all presidents communicate with their dog. They show themselves with their dog walking it or petting it.
Minister Gérald Darmanin, who comes from the right, put forward his cat Boris to break his technocratic side.
What is the difference with the chat in politics?
The cat has viral potential on social media because it’s cute. In marketing, with the arrival of social networks, we noticed that messages with cats were the most shared. Lots of politicians have used cats to create memes, videos, cuteness. Often it is the chosen ones who have a tough image who appeal to cats, this allows them to wait for their image. These are mainly far-right parties, in an attempt to de-demonize themselves. Today, Marine Le Pen puts herself forward with cats, but, at the base, the National Rally was the nasty, anti-migrant, violent party, heir to neo-Nazism. The cats allowed her to show that she had a heart and that she was empathetic, a bit like Matteo Salvini. Minister Gérald Darmanin, who comes from the right, put forward his cat Boris to break his technocratic side.
READ ALSOMarine Le Pen, the strategy of the cat
During his tenure, Donald Trump did not bend to the tradition of animal-loving presidents. To what extent did this decision influence its image?
During his campaign, Trump said he was not a politician like the others. He asserted himself in contrast to the others. He didn’t try to appear empathetic, didn’t show off too much with his wife and children. He didn’t go and pat children’s heads. He did not take an animal to pose as an anti-system candidate and who had to be until the end. It is this anti-system side that allowed him to be president. In 2020, he continued that line, except Americans were left in limbo and Biden overplayed the traditional president and featured campaigning animals.
How are animals exploited by politicians in France?
In the last presidential election, we noticed a new trend: it is no longer enough to pose with animals; now, the plaintiffs are also asking for strong acts for the protection of animals and their well-being. In the last elections, all the political parties presented a project for animal welfare, apart from Zemmour. Each contestant used the animal welfare issue to argue that their program was the best. Macron is the “at the same time” candidate, he went both to visit animals in SPAs and made concessions to hunters. Marine Le Pen often employs the issue of animal welfare, but she uses it mainly to criticize Muslims and their practices, such as the slaughter of sheep.
One animal to rule them all by Lucas Jakubowicz, published by Arkhe