ÉRIC ZEMMOUR BECOMING PRESIDENT OF France would be a “disaster,” one political operative in Paris tells Newsweek as the shadow of the far-right TV host looms increasingly over next year’s election.
Over the last few weeks, Zemmour—who was born in Paris to a Jewish family from Algeria—has been promoting his best seller France Hasn’t Had Its Last Word, which claims that Islam and immigration will destroy the country.
On screen and on the front pages, the 63-year-old is riding a wave of media prominence built upon his popular talk show on CNews, a rightwing television network likened to Fox News that in May became France’s No. 1 news network for the first time.
He openly promotes the “Great Replacement” narrative—a conspiracy theory that white people are being “replaced” by non-white, non-European immigrants; has been condemned for homophobic views; and in a show last year, called unaccompanied migrant children “robbers,” “murderers” and “rapists.”
It is the kind of demagoguery not out of place on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, for which the anchor has been criticized for his pronouncements on the same topics and who also has been the subject of speculation over a potential presidential run.
Many commentators have also dubbed Zemmour “the French Trump,” pointing to parallels between the Frenchman and the former darling of Fox News, ex-President Donald Trump, whom Zemmour admires and channels in his anti-establishment rhetoric.
“There are plenty of points in common with Trump—the television aspect, there is also an aspect in attitudes to women and femininity,” says Emmanuel Rivière, director of international polling at Kantar Public, a respected political bellwether in France.
“There is also a parallel in that they appeal to an alliance of older conservatives and wealthy people and frustrated and anxious, white blue-collar workers,” Rivière says.
“The ethnocentric feeling has mostly declined over the last 15 years, but Zemmour has increased the freedom to express some radical ideas,” he adds.
Zemmour has not declared his candidacy, but one survey in early October indicated his chances were good if he were to throw his hat in the ring for the ballot’s first round on April 10, 2022, with a possible runoff two weeks later.
A Harris Interactive poll predicted Zemmour would get 17 percent of the vote, only seven points behind the centrist President Emmanuel Macron.
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