French election: Voters explain support for Eric Zemmour
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A far-right television pundit, Eric Zemmour, carries a controversial past and has campaigned hard on the topic of anti-immigration in France. His rhetoric and outspoken nature have drawn comparisons with Donald Trump, and now his own presidential campaign is bearing similar hallmarks to the one Mr Trump ran successfully in the 2016 US presidential election.
Mr Zemmour announced his intention to run for the French presidency during next year’s elections on Tuesday, via social media.
In a 10-minute video, he explained how he took the decision because “no other politician has the courage to save the country from the tragic destiny that awaits it”.
Mr Zemmour will run as an independent candidate, and according to Politico, is currently polling in third place – behind current President Emmanuel Macron and far-right hopeful Marine Le Pen.
Although President Macron has yet to officially announce his intention for a second term in office, he is expected to run.
In recent months Mr Zemmour has emerged to become a leading candidate for the French presidency.
The 63-year-old has twice been convicted for inciting hatred and his campaign is headlined by anti-immigration language.
It may be early days, but Mr Zemmour’s campaign has already drawn several comparisons to the one which ultimately led to Mr Trump becoming US president.
As the ex-US president did during his own campaign, Mr Zemmour has been making headlines this week, though not for the right reasons.
Firstly, he was photographed making an offensive one-fingered gesture after being pursued by protestors, during a visit to the city of Marseille last weekend.
Then, on Tuesday Mr Zemmour’s announcement video had to be removed from French broadcast bulletins after extracts used within it were found not to have the required copyright permission.
All of this has led to questions being asked of whether Mr Zemmour can be taken as a serious candidate. Nonetheless, the public and media are paying him attention.
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In fact, Mr Zemmour has name-dropped Mr Trump in the past where he has drawn parallels between their politics.
Speaking to French TV channel LCI, he said Mr Trump “succeeded in uniting the working classes and the patriotic bourgeoisie. That’s what I’ve been dreaming about … for 20 years”.
Mr Zemmour plans to appeal to the French working class and bourgeoisie – equivalent to the middle or upper middle class – through his proposals on immigration to France and transforming industry.
However, his views on immigration have been criticised for stoking tensions and encouraging discrimination against France’s Muslim communities. Mr Zemmour has gone on record as saying that Islam is “incompatible” with western values.
He has also drawn comparisons to Mr Trump for his attacks on the media establishment and frequent use of social media to communicate with his supporters.
His campaign launch video appeared to lean on French nostalgia and engage viewers with the France of the past, something which Mr Trump himself did successfully with the American public.
One key difference between the two politicians though is that Mr Zemmour requires 500 elected official endorsements to run in the French election, whilst Mr Trump was able to keep campaigning on popular support until being nominated the Republican Party candidate.
Mr Zemmour’s politics may make it difficult for him to achieve this number and thus run in April’s election.
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