Although relatively obscure outside France, Eric Zemmour is a very well known and perhaps surprisingly popular figure, so much so that he has confirmed he will join the race to challenge Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential election next April. His candidature was an open secret, but that hasn’t stopped it appalling progressive opinion. Zemmour, of Algerian Jewish background, has been widely accused of being a racist, an Islamaphobe, a homophobe and even an antisemite, and has had more than his fair share of brushes with the law in relation to hate speech.
“Controversial” doesn’t really do this chap justice. Part journalist, part politician, part cultural critic, part what the French call a “public intellectual”, he has long subscribed to the “great replacement” theory. He believes that French national identity and western civilisation are in jeopardy, and that it is his job to save them. While he doesn’t stand a high chance of winning – though the possibility cannot be entirely dismissed – Zemmour’s very presence in the contest will make what is usually a rather divisive affair even more polarising.
His recent interview in The Spectator gave a flavour of what he will be bringing to the contest. In it, he declared that “immigration is war”, and that what he called “le wokeisme” is a trojan horse to deracinate France “by destroying our cultures, our history ... and allow a foreign culture, history and civilization to come and replace it”. There you go. Zemmour is really the ultimate culture-war candidate, and is running neck and neck with the now veteran leader of the far right, Marine Le Pen, with each hovering around the 15 per cent mark in polls for the first-round votes of French voters, as against about 25 per cent for the incumbent, President Macron.
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