Posted on September 30, 2021

Anti-Immigration TV Personality Threatens to Displace Le Pen in French Polls

Victor Mallet, FT, September 29, 2021

Eric Zemmour, an anti-immigration television commentator, has surged in the latest opinion poll ahead of next year’s French presidential election, and threatens to displace far-right leader Marine Le Pen as the main candidate to challenge the incumbent Emmanuel Macron.

Zemmour garnered 13 per cent of voting intentions for the first round of the April election, up from 7 per cent when he was first included as a possible candidate three weeks ago. Le Pen has slumped to 16 per cent from as high as 28 per cent in the summer, according to the Harris Interactive poll published this week.

Although first-round support for Macron’s re-election remains steady at 23 per cent, and current polling shows he would still face Le Pen in the second round, Zemmour has in recent weeks refocused the French political debate around immigration, Islam and law and order, destabilising the campaigns of Le Pen and the possible candidates for the centre-right Les Républicains. Zemmour has yet to launch his candidacy officially.


{snip} Zemmour’s rise, aided by exposure on a primetime TV talk show on CNews — a channel described by critics as France’s Fox News — has accelerated a shift to the right in the country’s politics.

Zemmour has twice been convicted of racial or religious provocation. He has called for 2m foreigners to be expelled from France.

While the Macron government has criticised Zemmour’s views it has also nudged its policies in recent weeks to put the emphasis on restricting immigration and tackling crime.