Brussels (Brussels Morning) France’s far-right author and commentator Eric Zemmour officially announced today that he will be running in the 2022 French presidential election in a bid to unseat current President Emmanuel Macron.
Zemmour has long mulled entering the arena, and was encouraged by a growing number of recent polls showing the likelihood that he would finish second in the first round of elections, sufficient to assure him a spot in the ensuing runoffs against Macron.
“I have decided to take our destiny in my hands”, Zemmour declared in a YouTube video announcing his candidacy. “I have decided to stand in the presidential election.” The video itself is chock-full of anti-immigrant sentiment, specifically addressing French voters who “no longer recognise” their country and who hear “foreign languages” on the streets.
Zemmour’s candidacy is a significant setback for the far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen. She has been hoping for a rematch with Macron in the second round of elections in 2022, having lost to him in the second round previously. A string of polls showed Zemmour overtaking Le Pen as the far-right’s favoured candidate. However, in recent days, he has slipped back into third place, a setback attributed to a series of controversies over the past few days.
After a tumultuous campaign stop in Marseille during the weekend, Zemmour was photographed giving the middle finger to a protester. Also, in a blow to his family-man image, the French magazine Closer published claims that his 28-year old campaign aide is pregnant with his child.
Moreover, Zemmour is on trial in Paris for “complicity in provoking racial hatred” because of remarks about unaccompanied child migrants, whom he described as “thieves, rapists and killers”, when calling for them to be sent back to their home countries. He refuses to appear in court, leaving his attorney to base his defence on the claim that the term “unaccompanied minor” refers to “neither a race nor ethnicity”.