Power Body Language in the French Presidential Debate (video)

There are a few interesting moments in this clip from a recent presidential debate in France.

You don’t have to speak French to see the body language at work:

5:04: Marine Le Pen chastising Francois Fillon

Le Pen is very good at exhibiting a wide vocal range. She shows that again here (getting noticeably loud at certain points) as well as genuine body language.

Fillon, another major candidate seems caught flat-footed. He looks around avoiding her gaze and doesn’t interrupt her tirade.

Le Pen at the moment enjoys more support in the polls than Fillon. Fillon seems uncomfortable with the current state of French politics, in which he would normally be the top candidate.


7:18: Philippe Poutou chastises Francois Fillon

The difference in Fillon’s reaction here, compared to Le Pen, couldn’t be more obvious. Poutou is a minor candidate with minimal support (who is also dressed completely inappropriately for this event):

Sensing weakness, Fillon glares directly at him with contempt, shakes his head (emoting), and doesn’t hesitate to interrupt.

When he does interrupt, at 7:38, he is composed and confident, he scolds him like a schoolboy, and Poutou shrinks in a pleading/ defensive motion, making himself smaller (a sign of fear).

Poutou immediately ends his rant against Fillon muttering “Yeah ok, that’s what I wanted to say,” completely caving to him.

He avoids Fillon’s gaze while Fillon continues to stare with the self-satisfied smirk of the victor. He has to laugh at how easy it was to spook the little guy.

This is an easy-to-spot example of nonverbal communication between two men on opposite sides of a power spectrum: Fillon, a former prime minister accustomed to power, and Poutou, an upstart with almost no support in the public.

(Francois Fillon has gone on to place third in the race with about 20% of the vote, and Poutou at about 1%)

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