Brussels (Brussels Morning) In an unexpected upset on the French right-wing, conservative pundit Eric Zemmour has edged ahead of the far-right National Rally presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who until now seemed to be the frontrunner as the far-right candidate of choice to contest next year’s presidential elections in France.
A Harris Interactive poll, published on Wednesday, shows Zemmour in second place among potential presidential candidates, with 17% of the potential vote, a four point increase compared to the most recent poll in September. Le Pen, meanwhile, dropped down to 15% and is now in third place.
President Emmanuel Macron, who beat Le Pen in the second round of the 2017 presidential elections, remains in first place in the polls, his support ranging between 24 and 27%. The polls also put him as the most likely winner in all potential runoff combinations, predicting he would defeat Zemmour by 55% to 45% in the second round, Le Pen by 53% to 47%, as well as a number of potential centre-right contenders.
Zemmour, whose books on the perceived failures of modern France have sold millions of copies, has yet to officially announce his intention to run for the office of president, but his public statements and behaviour indicate he is very likely to enter the ring.
The right-wing pundit presents himself as a political outsider, his message apparently resonating with the alienated middle class. His books, harkening back as far as Napoleonic times, have been criticised as “historical revisionism” by most prominent historians. He was convicted in French courts for inciting hatred, and is known for his anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant statements.
The centre-right has still not decided on its candidate, with the Republicans set to choose between two local leaders, Xavier Bertrand and Valerie Pecresse, and the EU’s former Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Bertrand, head of the northern Hauts-de-France region, is favoured by the polls, winning around 13% of the vote, while Pecresse and Barnier would currently win 11% and 7%, respectively.