France's first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy backed a petition on Sunday calling for affirmative action in France, one of the world's most racially mixed countries but whose rulers are almost exclusively white.
"Power (in France) has often had the same face: that of men who are white and ageing," she told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, which published the petition drawn up by an Algerian-born French business leader.
"That is why I can identify with this appeal. Without political measures we will be waiting too long," said President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife, who said she could not sign the petition because of her position but that she backed it entirely.
The petition was titled "Oui, nous pouvons!", the French translation of Obama's campaign slogan "Yes We Can", and said that the African-American's "election illustrated by a cruel contrast the failings of the French Republic."
"By neglecting its own diversity, France has driven to despair a whole swathe of its youth and has prevented it from being proud of its country," it said.
It called on the state and on employers to put in place "policies that promote (ethnic) diversity" that should come with an obligation to show concrete results.
Obama's historic election as the first black man in the White House is holding up a mirror to France, home to one of Europe's biggest black communities and its largest Muslim minority.
France's political establishment remains overwhelmingly white despite the appointment of two women of north African descent and a black human rights minister in Sarkozy's government.