Wednesday, October 20

Eric Zemmour, the ultra who could unseat Marine Le Pen in the presidential elections

In France it is practically impossible to find someone who does not recognize their face. Eric Zemmour, 63, born in Montreuil, on the outskirts of Paris, is a media freak. He has been participating in high-profile television programs for more than a decade, hosting debate tables and being famous for racist opinions that have brought him to justice on several occasions.

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A journalist by training, Zemmour is a columnist, writer (he has published 17 books, including essays and novels), philosopher and talkative and, for a few months, he has also been considered a potential candidate for the French presidential elections. A recent poll attributes him 13% of voting intention, just three points below Marine Le Pen (16%), tied with the leader of France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon (13%) and one point behind Xavier Bertrand (14%), one of the candidates to lead The Republicans, the traditional French right. President Emmanuel Macron is the leader in the poll, with 23% of the votes.

However, Eric Zemmour has not yet made his candidacy official. The debater maintains a certain suspense about his willingness to stand for election, although no one doubts that he will. “There are a lot of people who want me to be a candidate,” he said a few weeks ago. Wait for the right moment to announce yourself as a candidate.

More radical

Jewish and of Algerian-French parents, his family settled in France in the 1950s, during the war of independence in Algeria. He is married with three children and defines himself as a Bonapartist and a Gaullist.

Eric Zemmour wants to “re-Frenchify” the country, championing an extremely strict policy against immigrants. Of Marine Le Pen, whose program focuses on immigration and security, Zemmour says that “the political class has allowed him to have a monopoly on the fight against immigration.” Zemour, for example, argues that employers “have the right to reject Arabs or blacks” or that the majority of traffickers are immigrants. “It is so, it is a fact,” he said during an interview, without offering evidence.

Some of his interventions have ended in court, charging him with racism, homophobia or discrimination against women. In one of his most recent cases, he was tried for provocation of racial hatred for having said on television that unaccompanied migrant children “are thieves, murderers, rapists … and they must be thrown out of the country.”

If he becomes president, Zemmour also wants to apply a tougher policy against the use of religious symbols or prevent families from giving first names other than French. “I will do what Napoleon Bonaparte did with the Jews during the French Revolution,” he explained in a program, using the name of Mohamed as the main example. Napoleon prohibited children born in France from acquiring foreign names, a law that remained in effect until 1993.

The journalist is also in favor of reinstating the death penalty and considers the European Union to be “useless”, since it represents the erosion of French identity by allowing waves of migration. Last week he traveled to Budapest to meet with President Viktor Orbán, whom he describes as “a leader who defends the identity of his country, its sovereignty and its borders.”

Looking for support

Although his candidacy is not yet official, Eric Zemmour has spent months putting in place all the necessary structure to be a contender in the race for the Elysee. At the beginning of September he published a book about his vision of the country, France has not said its last word, among the best sellers.

You are also collecting the signatures and support necessary to launch your campaign through a partnership, Eric Zemmour’s Friends, and has challenged Marine Le Pen to a face-to-face, an offer that the far-right leader rejected, claiming that she will only accept a duel with Zemmour when she has made her campaign official.

Ultimately, Zemmour’s strategy is to attract the far-right electorate, but also the traditional right, divided between part of Emmanuel Macron’s electorate and the Republican party, orphaned as a leader after losing its strongman, former president Nicolás. Sarkozy. This formation will choose its final candidate in a congress next December.

Sarkozy, who this week was convicted of illegal funding of his 2012 campaign, has also been publicly endorsed by Zemmour. “A new episode of judicial harassment”, wrote Zemmour on Twitter after the conviction was made public.

Meanwhile, from the French Government direct references to the possible candidate are avoided as much as possible. Something that will change when his campaign goes from being a rumor to becoming an electoral program.

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