The political consulting community is mourning Michel Bongrand, one of the co-founders of the International Association of Political Consultants (IAPC). Bongrand died in Paris on August 19. He was 92-years-old.
Bongrand founded the IAPC alongside Joe Napolitan, one of the forefathers of the U.S. political consulting industry. It was Bongrand who headed up the IAPC’s first conference in Paris in 1968.
In an email to IAPC members, association President Ilkka Ahtokivi recalled Bongrand’s career, which included time as a soldier and journalist:
“He fought with the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation during World War II. He went on to become a renowned journalist in the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1960, he traveled to the United States where he covered the historic 1960 presidential election. It was there that he learned cutting edge techniques in political communication and persuasion.
In 1965, Bongrand approached General Charles DeGaulle and offered to run his campaign. DeGaulle scoffed and said he had no use for a so-called political consultant. Rebuffed by DeGaulle, Bongrand went to work for a little known challenger polling in the low single digits – Jean Lecanuet. Under Bongrand’s careful guidance, Lecanuet’s candidacy caught fire. He surged in the polls, ending at just under 16% on election day and forcing an embarrassed DeGaulle into a runoff against Francois Mitterand.
After Lecanuet’s unlikely surge, Bongrand was a hot commodity in European politics. He advised a number of major French politicians and heads of state from around the world. Even the Gaullists who had mocked Bongrand’s work went on to hire him for subsequent electoral efforts.”
A funeral service for Bongrand was held earlier this week in Paris.