Macron rival Eric Zemmour backlash as pundit branded ‘damage to peace’ in France

Eric Zemmour points gun at reporters during an arms fair

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Radical writer and TV personality, Mr Zemmour has emerged as a serious contender in France’s presidential election next year. Though he has not officially announced his candidacy, Mr Zemmour quit his prime-time chat show to comply with French electoral rules and claimed in recent months he was a “candidate in the debate”. France’s right-wing were spooked last week when a new poll by Ifop-Fiducial projected the pundit would gain 17 percent of the vote, and beat Marine Le Pen to the second round of the election.

Ms Le Pen, who lost out to President Macron four years ago, has since softened her stance on several issues, including Frexit, to appeal to a centre-right demographic.

Mr Zemmour, who has in the past been convicted of inciting hatred, has carved a career out of testing the limits of political correctness. 

He is noted for his hateful rhetoric against several minority groups including women and France’s large muslim population.

Professor Carter claimed that the prospect of Mr Zemmour becoming President would be “damaging” to France’s “domestic peace”.

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She told “I think Zemour would be the most hostile [to France’s immigrant population].

“Zemmour would be the most hostile to, especially Muslim’s in France ‒ that would be throwing a match into the powder-keg.

“I think personally that would be really damaging to French domestic peace and stability.”

In the past, Mr Zemmour has been attacked by historians for claiming Nazi collaborator Marshal Philippe Pétain saved French Jews when in reality he aided their deportation to concentration camps.

His latest book ‘La France N’a Pas Dit Son Dernier Mot’ (France Hasn’t Had Its Last Word) which was released this year, warned of a “war on races” and claimed Islam would destroy France.

At book signings across the country, Mr Zemmour argued that the “white heterosexual male” was under threat from ethnic minorities and what he describes as the “gay-lobby”.

He claimed that foreigners had taken over entire French neighbourhoods and insisted that if immigration was not stopped France would become an “Islamic republic.”

Such rhetoric led the French Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti to describe Mr Zemmour as “racist” and a Holocaust denier last month.

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Prof Carter in-part credited Mr Zemmour’s rise to Ms Le Pen, and the National Rally’s shift towards the centre.

She said: “Le Pen has shifted towards the centre, she’s mellowed, so she and Macron have merged since the last election.

“Some would argue this is why Zemmour ended up having space to enter. 

“If you talk about Jean-Marie Le Pen and the Front National, there wasn’t a whole lot of space to the right of him at that time.

“With her shifting more centre she’s opened up this space.”

Mr Zemmour is however unlikely to pose a significant threat to Mr Macron winning a second presidential term. 

Though Ifop-Fiducial polling has suggested the TV personality would take 17 percent of the first round vote and overtake Ms Le Pen, he would still be well behind the incumbent President.

The same poll sees Mr Macron taking 25 percent of the first round vote.

Though the President hasn’t officially announced he is to run in 2022, he appears to be setting out his re-election campaign.

On Tuesday he announced new health measures in a televised address to the nation.

Equally, last month he revealed a €30 billion plan to “re-industrialise” France, by creating smaller nuclear reactors, investing in France’s television industry, and making it a global leader on green hydrogen.

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