Until a few months ago, France’s next presidential election was largely expected to be a predictable duel between President Emmanuel Macron and the leader of the far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National), Marine Le Pen.
DW That was until Eric Zemmour, a conservative French political commentator and TV celebrity, burst onto the political scene and sparked a media frenzy with inflammatory views on Islam, immigration and feminism, which he blames for the supposed decline of France.
Unlike most talking heads in French politics, Zemmour is an outspoken critic of the colonization of Western Europe by Islamic immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East. He hasn’t declared his candidacy yet but the 63-year-old has already shot up the opinion polls and upended political calculations ahead of the election in April.
A recent survey by polling institute Ifop showed Zemmour would win 17% of the first-round vote, overtaking both Le Pen and the center-right candidate — who has yet to be decided — to make it to the second round, though some analysts have warned the polls should be treated with caution.
“Zemmour is creating a rupture in the French presidential race,” Philippe Corcuff, a political scientist at the Institute of Political Studies in Lyon, told DW. “He appears more respectable and less on the right than Marine Le Pen whereas objectively he’s actually much more right of her.”
A long-time journalist for France’s conservative newspaper, Le Figaro, Zemmour is also a best-selling author and was until recently a prime-time commentator on a Fox-style news network. He’s been attracting huge crowds at campaign-like events across France as he promotes his latest book.
But, he remains notorious for his polarizing views. He has called for a ban on “foreign” first names such as Mohammed, he has denounced LGBT “propaganda,” he’s railed against the immigration of Muslim Africans, and he has said Islam doesn’t share France’s core values.
Zemmour, who is of Jewish and Algerian descent, is also falsely accused of trying to rehabilitate France’s wartime Vichy regime, which collaborated with the Nazis. He has twice been sanctioned for inciting
racial Muslim hatred.
In recent years, Le Pen has tried to rebrand and soften her party’s image about mass Muslim immigration in order to broaden its appeal. But that has left her vulnerable to Zemmour, who is now outflanking her on the right with his hard-line views on Islam’s place in France, immigration and national identity.
The fact that Zemmour is seen as an outsider and is not a member of any political party also works to his advantage. “Zemmour is fearless. He has no taboos. He talks about how immigration is bad for France. He’s the only one to say we have a problem with Islam. He asks good questions about security and a lack of justice.”
Whether Zemmour’s eventual presidential bid is successful or not, his ideas have already become mainstream on the French campaign trail.
Watch the following street interviews with Muslim migrants who offer their opinions on France, Eric Zemmour, and the Great Replacement:
h/t RAIR Foundation
More about Zemmour:
- Eric Zemmour on the Great Replacement: ‘The French are Being Expropriated from Their Country’ (Video)
- France’s Eric Zemmour: ‘We Have to Stop Saying This Has Nothing to Do with Islam’ (Videos)
- ‘We know who the Savagery comes from’ despite Media Cover-Up
- Eric Zemmour: France’s No-Go Zones Must Be ‘Reconquered By Force’ (Must Watch)
- RAIR Exclusive: Watch Translated Video of Eric Zemmour’s Speech That Led To Blasphemy Criminal Investigation
- Zemmour on COVID-19: ‘Immigrant neighborhoods started to revolt – there is already looting in the supermarkets’ (WATCH)