To the right of Le Pen: Zemmour wants France's top job

After considerable speculation, the far-right journalist Eric Zemmour has declared his candidacy for the 2022 French presidential elections on YouTube. His video harks back to General de Gaulle's 1940 call to resistance and warns that French culture is disappearing as a result of immigration. Europe's press voices concern.

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Libération (FR) /

The left must form the counterpole

Now it's up to the French left to take up the challenge, Libération urges in an editorial:

“Zemmour's announcement video alone fulfills almost all the criteria of Umberto Eco's classic How to Spot A Fascist, with Muslims as the preferred scapegoat. There is nothing new about this paranoid delusion except the fact that it is now poisoning public debate, from the primaries of the so-called 'traditional' right to the 'balanced' TV channels. ... But who will protect Muslims, women, Jews, civil servants, intellectuals and other targets of this hate speech? The left, which has so far been invisible in the political debate, now has a historic task that it cannot avoid.”

De Morgen (BE) /

More than just hype

De Morgen dreads the potential aftermath of this candidacy:

“The hype around Zemmour is more than just a fad. The consequences of a right-wing isolationist getting his hands on the keys of a core country of the European Union can hardly be estimated. It could mean the end of the EU. ... Fears that a president who makes racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism acceptable could dangerously polarise society are justified. ... Zemmour doesn't even have to become leader to normalise such ideas. ... Even with far-right, right-wing extremist or populist voices in the opposition, the influence on politics and society would be tangible.”

La Stampa (IT) /

The French Trump

La Stampa writes:

“Zemmour's success in the public discourse is due to his rhetoric, which is imbued with 'chauvinism 2.0' and which continues the Americanisation of politics in France. ... Paradoxically, though, it was the right wing of the Sarkozy era that was the first to abandon the legacy of Gaullism. This led to the rise of Zemmour, standard-bearer of political incorrectness, French-style white supremacy, and a neoliberalism that contradicts the declared programmes of the social right. A new anti-system figurehead who presents himself as an outsider but is supported by a closely-knit network of reactionary sponsors. ... In short: Goodbye de Gaulle, hello Trumpism à la française.”

Cicero (DE) /

Le Pen could benefit

Zemmour's candidacy won't necessarily hurt Marine Le Pen's chances in the election, writes France correspondent Stefan Brändle in Cicero:

“If she succeeds in the next few months in presenting herself as a 'soft version' of Zemmour and distancing herself from his hate tirades, she could even benefit from his entering the race, namely the moment Zemmour falls back and she picks up his votes. If it comes to a second round in which she faces Macron, it is already estimated that she would win a - high - 46 percent of the vote. That makes her victory at least possible. Thanks to her second, Zemmour?”

The Times (GB) /

Things look good for Macron

With the conservatives in France veering to the right as a result of Eric Zemmour's candidacy, voters lack any moderate alternatives to the incumbent president, The Times concludes:

“The greatest risk he faces is that the Republicans [LR], who choose their own candidate next week, opt for a more moderate standard-bearer such as Michel Barnier, the former Brexit negotiatior, who could provide a rallying point for opposition to Mr Macron in the second round. But as Mr Barnier and his rivals increasingly copy Mr Zemmour's hardline on immigration, the polls suggest that the party stands little chance of making the second round, let alone winning it.”