Eric Zemmour, an anti-immigration television commentator, has jumped 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 outgoing president Emmanuel Macron.
Zemmour collected 13% of the voting intentions for the first round of the April elections, down from 7% when he was first included as a possible candidate three weeks ago. Le Pen fell to 16% from 28% in the summer, according to the Harris Interactive poll released this week.
Although first-round support for Macron’s re-election remains stable at 23% and current polls show he would still face Le Pen in the second round, Zemmour has refocused the French political debate on immigration in recent weeks, l Islam and public order. , destabilizing the campaigns of Le Pen and the possible candidates of the center-right Les RÃ©publicains. Zemmour has not yet officially launched his candidacy.
“There is a risk of radicalization of the campaign,” said Jean-Yves Camus, an expert in extremist politics. “He will take some votes from former supporters of [then centre-right candidate FranÃ§ois] Fillon in 2017, and some from Marine Le Pen.
The French left has been in retreat since Macron “neither to the right nor to the left” took over from socialist FranÃ§ois Hollande as president in 2017. Fox News – has accelerated a shift to the right in the country’s politics.
Zemmour has been convicted twice for racial or religious provocation. He called for the expulsion of 2 million foreigners from France.
While the Macron government has criticized Zemmour’s views, it has also pushed its policies in recent weeks to focus on restricting immigration and fighting crime.
On Tuesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced a sharp reduction in the number of visas France would grant to North African countries Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco because they refused to accept return. illegal immigrants from France.
Zemmour responded by mocking the timing seven months before the French election, saying people like him had long offered to put pressure on foreign governments but were dismissed as extremists. “Suddenly, the moderate government of Emmanuel Macron adopts the methods of the extremists”, he declared.
Interior Minister GÃ©rald Darmanin said in an interview with the right-wing Le Figaro on Wednesday that the government had closed mosques and associations which he said were controlled by radical Islamists. “Never has a government done so much against political Islam,” he said.
Other politicians have joined the fray. Le Pen, who has always opposed mass immigration but sought to âdetoxifyâ his party and its reputation for racism, this week called for a referendum on citizenship, identity and control of the immigration. Michel Barnier, one of the main possible candidates of the center-right LR, called for a moratorium on immigration of three to five years.
Zemmour has overtaken all minor candidates on the right and left in the polls, including Anne Hidalgo, the socialist mayor of Paris. His 13 percent places him tied for fourth place with Jean-Luc MÃ©lenchon of the far-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party and within reach of second place.