A far-right expert vying for the French presidential election

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On Sunday, Eric Zemmour, a former journalist and far-right political expert with harsh views on immigration, held his first campaign rally as a candidate for the French presidential election. Zemmour announced the creation of his own political party, “Reconquête” or “Reconquête”, which had already gathered 20,000 supporters in two days, according to French media BFMTV.

During his televised address, violence broke out between Zemmour’s supporters and protesters from the SOS Racism organization. Sixty-two people were arrested according to the French newspaper Le Parisien, including members of SOS Racisme. Zemmour was also attacked by a protester in the crowd, the Associated Press reported.

Zemmour, who presents himself as a right-wing political outsider, has been dubbed by some the “French Trump,” with a political playbook full of controversial comments and attacks on the press. “For months, our meetings bothered journalists, annoyed politicians and drove the left mad,” he said at Sunday’s meeting.

The candidate exists outside of traditional political parties and uses a rhetoric that even Marine Le Pen and the National Rassemblement – the far-right party in France, formerly known as the National Front – remain on the sidelines.

Zemmour was fined for hate speech. In 2011 he was fined 10,000 euros for claiming on television that “most drug traffickers are black and Arab”, and in 2018 he was ordered to pay 3,000 euros for comments branding on a Muslim “invasion” of France, The Telegraph and other media. reported.

“He is the only one in France to use the theory of” great replacement … even Marine Le Pen does not use this term “, declared Jean Yves Camus, political scientist and director of the Observatory of political radicalism, adding:” for Zemmour, the French population has been changed, and the French are now a minority on their own land. “

The Great Replacement Theory is an idea of ​​the French political far right that the French will become minorities in their country after being replaced by immigrants.

If elected, Zemmour said he wanted to expel all immigrants found guilty of crimes and incarcerated in French prisons to their country of origin, and to abolish social benefits for foreigners and immigrants who do not yet have the nationality. French. He is also committed to making immigrants prove that they know the French language and are ready to assimilate into French culture.

Like Trump, Zemmour is seen as someone who seduces part of the French population worried about the future. “He is addressing a particularly worried French company, the most pessimistic nation in Europe (…) but this country is not doing so badly,” said Camus.

Zemmour’s economic plan is seen as more liberal than Le Pen pundits who spoke to ABC News say, and focuses more on the free market and simplifying the French bureaucracy, which experts say appeals to upper-class voters.

But the comparison with Trump is flawed, due to Zemmour’s long-standing complicity with the French elite. “Zemmour has the elites, Le Pen has the people,” declared Nicolas Lebourg, historian and specialist in far-right movements.

For Camus, the fact that Zemmour was a journalist for a mainstream newspaper, Le Figaro, and that he has been seen on television by voters for several decades, puts him in an advantage over Marine Le Pen who cannot get out of the box. shadow of his father. , Jean Marie Le Pen and the extremist history of the Front National.

“[Zemmour] was seen as someone on the right, resolutely conservative on questions of identity and immigration, but he has no far-right history like Marine Le Pen, ”explains Camus.

Zemmour’s tough stance on immigration includes his plans, if elected, he says to reduce the number of immigrants and asylum seekers who are allowed to enter the country each year, and would not admit than those who wish to “assimilate”, although it is not clear on how he would measure assimilation. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that the French population is composed of only 13% immigrants, less than its neighbors like Germany.

Zemmour also suggested reviving a law from 1803 that was abolished in 1993, requiring parents to only give their children historically and traditionally French names.

Meanwhile, Zemmour presented himself as a model of successful integration. “I am an Algerian Jew who grew up in the Parisian suburbs, and whose family heritage and readings have turned into a Frenchman of land and ancestors,” he writes in his latest book, “La France has not said his last word ”.

A strong critic of America’s “melting pot” approach to immigration, Zemmour often uses America as an anti-model. “[Zemmour] … thinks that everything that is wrong in France is an import of everything that is wrong in America, ”says Lebourg.

At a rally in October 2020 in Versailles, Zemmour described the “awakened” culture as a conspiracy to make “white, straight, Catholic” men feel “so guilty” that they willingly give up their “ culture and civilization ”.

The French presidential election will take place from April 10 to 24. The latest polls show Zemmour in fourth place after President Emmanuel Macron, Republican candidate Valérie Pécresse and Marine Le Pen.

Zemmour needs 500 signatures from local mayors to secure a place on the ballot, in accordance with French law.


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