Jean-Marie Le Pen selfie
Dancer, choreographer Brahim Zaibat mugs next to a sleeping Jean-Marie Le Pen Facebook.

French right-winger Jean-Marie Le Pen has sued a former boyfriend of Madonna for snapping a selfie that included an unflattering shot of the snoozing politician. Le Pen is claiming the photo "harmed" his image and the reputation of the National Front Party, reports the French news website Rue 89 believing that the photo contributed to the party's recent surprise defeat in French regional elections.

The shot of the dozing, open-mouthed Le Pen was snapped by Brahim Zaibat, 29, a French choreographer and dancer and former boyfriend of Madonna. Zaibat, who was traveling on the same airplane as Le Pen, posted the selfie on Facebook before the elections with the caption: "Knockout the [National Front] tomorrow by going to vote. To preserve our fraternal France!"

He posted the photo on 12 December, one day before the second round of French regional elections that the party, headed by Le Pen's daughter, Marine, hoped to win big.

However, the Le Pens and party suffered a major setback when candidates of the governing Socialist Party withdrew from close contests in favour of the center-right Republicans, lending their votes to their longtime rivals to combat the National Front. Le Pen took only 42% of the vote in a head-to-head race.

Le Pen's £37,000 ($54,000) lawsuit against Zaibat (he also wants a public apology) argues that he violated French privacy laws, which prohibit taking an individual's picture without prior permission.

The French code, however, also allows photos of public figures like Le Pen. He also argued that the photo "harmed his image and was instrumental in the defeat of the party," according to the BBC.

Zaibat's photo has been shared by some 33,000 Facebook viewers and garnered nearly 200,000 likes.