What does Eric Zemmour's success mean for France?

Hardly a day goes by without a controversial debate about Eric Zemmour in the French media. The journalist, who has been convicted several times for spreading racial hatred, is making a name for himself with his far-right views and flirting with the idea of running for president in the 2022 elections. In some polls he has already overtaken Marine Le Pen. France's press takes stock.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

A political disaster

Philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy is appalled. In a guest commentary for La Repubblica he writes:

“Eric Zemmour is certainly not the first to claim that one can be Jewish and ultra-populist. ... But the fact remains that the widespread jubilation over the spectacle of this man not only desecrating his name but becoming the standard-bearer of what Jewish hope has been fighting for millennia is unbearably obscene. A political disaster is looming. But it is also a metaphysical disaster for all those who, since the dawn of time, have retained something of the sense of humanity and significance of France.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Drifting in an illiberal direction

The Guardian finds it worrying that Eric Zemmour has overtaken Marine Le Pen in some polls:

“The aggressive prosecution of culture wars has allowed him to poll higher than the ratings of the Parti Socialiste hopeful, Anne Hidalgo, and the Green candidate, Yannick Jadot, combined. Mr Macron remains the likely winner of next spring's presidential election (although a strong centre-right opponent in the runoff could change that calculation). But viewed through a longer lens than this particular race, it is difficult not to conclude that the cultural politics of France are drifting in an alarmingly illiberal direction.”

Le Point (FR) /

The right has created its own doombringer

The conservative media have created a monster that is now turning against them, comments Le Point:

“The novelist Mary Shelley illustrated a similar phenomenon in her own way: an irresponsible scientist, Frankenstein, plays the creator and fashions a creature that becomes a monster and turns against its maker. Our classical right has set the same trap for itself. It too has nurtured, encouraged, and strengthened a publicist who, monster of ingratitude, has turned against it and is about to kill it. We are witnessing the deliberate murder of the liberal right by a talented and energetic assassin of the extreme right.”

Mediapart (FR) /

TV presence boosts Zemmour's image

Eric Zemmour is frequently seen on other TV channels in addition to CNEWS, the channel for which he recently worked. This improves his chances of election, Médiapart complains:

“Like Trump, Zemmour doesn't care whether what he says on TV is true or about false figures. All that counts is his omnipresence in the media. People think that if a candidate is constantly on TV, it means he is important and what he says is all the more important. There are still many who think the media are entities run by very intelligent people who want to inform others for their own good.”

Le Soir (BE) /

This is how Macron becomes the candidate of reason

If Zemmour runs for office, radical opinions from both the left and right camps will play a major role in the presidential campaign, Le Soir concludes:

“With the consequence that the outgoing president Emmanuel Macron, who is vilified on both sides of the spectrum, plagued by heated opinion polls and insulted every week on the street, looks like the candidate of moderation and reason or even common sense. ... And, as a result, will easily be re-elected. For lack of any alternatives, of course. But in politics, it is never one's own fault if one is elected for lack of alternatives. It's the opponent's fault.”