The far-right figure Zemmour announces presidential candidate to ‘save’ France

  • The far right Zemmour will save France from decadence
  • He is the challenger to Le Pen on the election ticket
  • Polls show Macron winning second term

PARIS, NOVEMBER 30 (Reuters) – Right-wing French expert Eric Zemmour on Tuesday announced his candidacy for the presidency with a video in which he said to ominous music and footage of street violence that he would save France from decadence and minorities who “oppress the majority”.

A former journalist who has been convicted of inciting racial hatred, he is the biggest candidate to challenge Marine Le Pen, leader of the more established right-wing extremist National Rally, for a seat in a second round against President Emmanuel Macron.

His candidacy turns the April 2022 election into a test of the endurance and boundaries of Europe’s far right, which rose in the last decade, but shows signs of reaching a ceiling as it pushes the boundaries of acceptable speech. Read more

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“For a long time I was happy with the role of journalist … but I no longer trust that a politician will have the courage to save the country from the tragic fate that awaits it,” Zemmour, 63, said in a video, which was published. on social media. “That is why I have decided to run for president.”

Zemmour’s harsh criticism of Islam and immigration has drawn support both from Le Pen’s voter base and from the general conservative right wing, but has also alienated some voters whom Le Pen had long sought to reassure.

When footage showed women in scarves, black men in the subway and CCTV footage of fights, he told voters Tuesday that when he watched movies, walked the streets or walked into the hospital: “You feel like you’re no longer in that country, you once knew … You are foreigners in your own country. “

“We must give power back to the people, take it back from minorities who oppress the majority,” he added.

After a sharp rise in opinion polls in recent weeks, with several polls predicting he would beat Le Pen in the second round of elections, his popularity has plummeted.

A woman walks past posters in support of French right-wing extremist commentator Eric Zemmour, likely candidate for the French presidential election next April, posted on a wall in Paris, France, 13 October 2021. Photo taken 13 October 2021. REUTERS / Sarah Meyssonnier / Photo

PROVOCATIVE COMMENTS

Zemmour led Le Pen for a while in recent weeks, and the race for second place is still neck-and-neck in some studies.

But at this point, most polls predict Macron and Le Pen will meet in the second round next April, which Macron would likely win in a repeat election in 2017.

A Harris Interactive poll published on Tuesday – with people surveyed before Zemmour confirmed his widely expected candidacy – showed him a three to four percentage point drop by about 13% of voting intentions, pointing to the impact of various recent mishaps.

One was over the weekend where he was photographed giving the middle finger to a protester after a tumultuous campaign stop in Marseille. He also sued gossip magazine Closer, after it claimed he was expecting a baby with his political assistant. Read more

Studies also show that he has shocked some voters with provocative comments – from saying that children should not be given foreign-sounding names to claiming that Philippe Petain’s French government, which collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, had protected Jews. And he has lost the backing of some high-profile supporters, French media say.

“He imitates de Gaulle, but he defends the idea of ​​Petain,” said Antoine Leaument, from the far-left party France Insoumise, about Zemmour’s candidate video.

De Gaulle, the towering figure of 20th-century French history, led the nation’s resistance to the Nazi occupation during World War II. Zemmour’s video, in which he performed speeches behind a huge microphone and in front of old books stacked on shelves, had hints of De Gaulle’s wartime calls for resistance.

“Our opponent is Emmanuel Macron,” Sebastien Chenu, from Le Pen’s National Rally, told BFM TV in an attempt to shrug off Zemmour’s candidacy. “We can not see him (Zemmour) bringing anything new.”

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Additional reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Edited by Peter Graff and Nick Macfie

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