In the wake of the runoffs in France’s regional elections Sunday, there has been fresh talk that best-selling author and television panelist Eric Zemmour — often dubbed the “French Trump” — would run for president of France in 2022 on a strong nationalist platform.
The “Zemmour for President” talk came as Marine LePen, considered the leading nationalist hopeful against President Emmanuel Macron, suffered a major blow at the polls Sunday.
LePen’s Reassemblement Party’s high hopes of winning the government in the southern Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (PACA) were dashed. This would have been the first-ever victory for the nationalist party above the level of local city halls since LePen’s father founded it as the National Front (FN) in 1974.
But it was not to be. The Reassemblement candidates in PACA trailed the incumbent center-right Les Republicans candidates by 10 percentage points.
LePen was not the only national party leader to have a bad night. Macron’s Ent Marche party failed to score wins in any of France’s 13 regions, as roughly two thirds of French voters abstained from voting.
So, talk has begun of a candidacy by Zemmour — 62, author of the prize-winning book “The French Suicide” (likened to James Burnham’s conservative epic “Suicide of the West” in the U.S.), and a polarizing fixture on TV for two decades for his spirited opposition to illegal immigration and political correctness.
“Eric Zemmour is a very interesting phenomenon in France,” Laure Haim, spokesman for Macron’s winning presidential campaign in 2017, told Newsmax, “The arguments we heard in 2015 about Donald Trump, we are hearing about Zemmour one year before the French presidential election — and they’re exactly the same. He doesn’t have a chance, he’s a clown, he’s on TV, he doesn’t have a political party. ... It’s what I heard about Trump a year before he became president.”
Noting that Zemmour has dueled in the televised arena with many traditional politicians and emerged triumphant, Haim said he would make a superior candidate for the right than LePen.
“LePen comes from a political family and she is from the civil society,” said Haim, “Zemmour is very different from LePen. He is new in politics, and the attraction of someone new to politics is true all over the world — for better or for worse.”
“I will say that Zemmour at this moment is a French phenomenon. He likes provocation. He’s a writer and has written very successful books. You either love him or you hate him but there is no middle.”
Laure Mandeville, formerly U.S. correspondent for the venerable French publication LeFigaro, said the regional elections “didn’t clarify anything. Quite the contrary, it shows the weakness of Macron, the limits of Le Pen, and the open window for a sudden surprise candidate. The game is very open.”
Regarding Zemmour, who wrote for LeFigaro from 2009 to 2013 and is a fixture on TV and radio talk shows, Mandeville said: “He is a nationalist, has a huge number of fans from his shows and books, but also very divisive — a bit like Trump and Tucker Carlson — but a super intellectual.”
“It’s a very strange situation,” she added, “There’s a feeling here of a growing anxiety and dislocation of the French society, with huge divides and harsh ideological fights.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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