French Radical Surges With Talk of Arming Citizens, Civil War
(Bloomberg) -- Media pundit Eric Zemmour is emerging as one of the most popular French presidential candidates as he talks about gun rights, banning immigration and civil war. And he hasn’t even confirmed he’s running.
Zemmour would get 17% of votes in the first round of the election on April 10, effectively knocking out nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen, who’d win 15%, as well as the center-right Republican party candidate, according to a poll by Harris Interactive for Challenges magazine. Emmanuel Macron would get 24%.
In Paris on Monday night, a debate between Zemmour and philosopher Michel Onfray in a packed conference center felt like a campaign rally. When the talk show host, who’s been condemned for inciting racial hatred, walked onto the stage, the crowd stood up and chanted “Zemmour president.” He smiled.
It’s not a given that Zemmour will run, or even that he can obtain the signatures of 500 mayors legally required for him to do so, but his allies have set up an organization to collect donations and are trying to ensure it happens.
Even so, as Zemmour promotes his latest book and joins televised debates, he is dividing Le Pen’s support base and attracting more traditional right-wing voters, recent surveys show. His surge in the polls threatens to upset what many assumed would be a repeat of the 2017 contest between Macron and Le Pen.
During the debate, Zemmour ruled out a French exit from the European Union, saying it would be too unpopular with voters. He called for an end to all immigration and for the deportation of migrants who commit crimes. Citing insecurity, he said France was in an “atmosphere” of civil war and mused over providing weapons to citizens.
Zemmour also suggested that Islam wasn’t compatible with French democracy and said he wanted to ban non-Catholic names.
Not everyone in the crowd was a fan. Some, including students, said they came out of curiosity.
The Harris poll of 1,310 adults was conducted online between Oct. 1 and 4. Earlier this year, surveys largely overestimated how well Le Pen’s party would do in regional elections.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.